Belfast Telegraph

NI's Almac snaps up lab in Republic as its expansion drive continues

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland pharmaceuticals company the Almac Group has bought a contract laboratory in the Republic as part of continued expansion.

The firm is thought to have spent a multi-million pound sum on buying BioClin Laboratories in Athlone.

It is the latest expansion for Almac Group in the Republic of Ireland after it bought Arran Chemical Company two years ago.

The BioClin deal adds 35 people to the firm’s global workforce of just under 5,000.  It employs nearly 3,000 people in Northern Ireland.

Last year, the business announced the opening of a new site at the IDA Business Park in Dundalk as part of its Brexit planning in order to have access to the single market. 

But a spokeswoman insisted the latest deal had “nothing to do with Brexit” and was part of “global expansion”. 

“BioClin is located around 10km from Arran, so the existing facilities and skills are there,” she said, adding that the premises would fall under the “analytic services” section of Almac. 

BioClin carries out analytical services and data reporting to support drug development in Garrycastle. 

The firm has also expanded analytical facilities at its headquarters in Craigavon and opened a new laboratory. 

Arran Chemical Company manufactures products for pharmaceuticals, flavourings, fragrances and personal care. 

Stephen Barr, managing director of Almac Sciences, said: “Adding BioClin’s highly complementary analytical capacity and technical expertise to our existing capabilities, along with investment in nearby Arran and the opening of our new lab in Craigavon, means that we can broaden our service offerings and address our global clients’ growing demands for a high-quality, integrated and efficient service.”

Almac also announced that its new drug-development and manufacturing sites in Loughborough in England had passed an inspection by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The facilities at Charnwood, which were acquired two years ago, provide services to the pharmaceutical and the biotech sectors.

Around 55 posts have already been filled, and it is expected that up to 200 people will be employed there by 2021.

Almac said it had spent £16m on the premises at Charnwood, including building improvements and new technology, since the acquisition. 

The company discussed its investment in Dundalk at the House of Commons in February.

Executive director Colin Hayburn told the NI Affairs Committee: “If the border turns into something of further hindrance to our work, then we would have to consider more operations being done in Dundalk.”

But he added the firm would not be moving jobs from Craigavon, explaining: “It’s to protect those jobs in Craigavon that we need to find solutions for the EU, which is why we need this facility in Dundalk.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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