Belfast Telegraph

Almac to have biggest global workforce of Northern Ireland firms

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland pharmaceutical firm Almac has unveiled a £20m investment in its Philadelphia premises as it continues to build its America business.

The company, which makes pharmaceutical products on contract, is also spending £5m on expanding its Craigavon headquarters, where it will build a new laboratory and office.

In the US, it could benefit if President-elect Donald Trump carries out campaign pledges to reduce corporation tax to 15%.

Almac also announced it was spending £2m on the Arran Chemical Company site in Athlone in the Republic of Ireland, which it acquired last year.

It comes shortly after the company expanded its North Carolina site.

It is now the biggest Northern Ireland firm to have major premises in America.

This year marks two decades in the territory for the business.

With the expansion in Craigavon, Athlone and Pennsylvania now giving the firm a total of 5,000 staff around the world, it will boast the biggest global workforce of any Northern Ireland-based business.

As part of the latest growth phase, the company is expanding its existing premises in Souderton in Pennsylvania and leasing a 26,000 sq ft office space in nearby Lansdale.

Almac said it was investing in new machines, computers and software and creating more than 300 positions in sciences, clinical services and pharma services.

It has received a £1.3m Pennsylvania First Program grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development towards the work.

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf praised Almac's commitment to the State. He described the firm as a "major player in south-eastern Pennsylvania's strong bio-pharma industry".

Almac Group chief executive Alan Armstrong said: "Due to significant industry demand for our services, it is essential we build capacity and increase headcount to ensure we continue to compete at a global level.

"This year we are celebrating our twentieth year in the US and we are excited to make a further commitment within the Pennsylvania state and throughout North America.

"We are also delighted to announce our further expansion plans across Europe as we continue to build upon our global success, and we are looking forward to an exciting future."

In Craigavon, around 170 existing staff, including chemists and analysts involved in drug research, development and manufacture, will be transferred to the new building

At the end of September, Almac announced it was expanding its clinical services division and developing its diagnostics operations at its site in Durham, North Carolina.

As well as manufacturing and developing drugs on contract, the company also provides services such as research and product development.

In accounts for the year ending September 30 this year, Almac reported pre-tax profits of nearly £28m, partly due to increased licensing of its cancer tests and treatment.

Turnover was up nearly 15% from £341.6m to £393.6m on the firm's main activities in the USA and UK.

In a strategic report accompanying the results, the holding investment company said it received payments of $20m (£13.7m) for the out-licensing of oncology products and diagnostic tests, developed in-house.

Last year, Almac and Queen's announced they had created a new therapeutic drug to slow down tumour growth in the advanced stages of ovarian cancer.

Almac was formed by the late Sir Allen McClay in 2002, although its roots go back to Galen Ltd, which the former pharmacist founded in 1968.

It floated as Galen Holdings plc in 1997 and was the province's first billion-pound company.

Belfast Telegraph