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Drugs factory closure plan ‘out of the blue’

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Drugs factory closure plan ‘out of the blue’

SHOCK closure plans have been announced at a pharmaceutical factory at Newbie, with 64 jobs under threat.

Operators Macfarlan Smith, which is a subsidiary of American firm Veranova, have launched a consultation on the closure of their site near Annan, which employs 71 people in total.

The company says that over the last several months, they have conducted a review of their manufacturing capacity relative to customer needs and market trends across their product portfolio.

And as a result, they are proposing to shut down Newbie, with a consultation now underway with staff.

A spokesman this week said: “The consultation will last for at least 30 days. However, we will run the consultation for as long as necessary to ensure that employees have the opportunity to express their views and make suggestions to avoid implementing the proposals.

“If the proposals are implemented, we would divest the site but the form that divestment may take has not been decided.”

Macfarlan Smith say they recognise ‘the impact this proposal will have on staff at the Annan facility’.

The Newbie operation was purchased by Johnson Matthey, the previous owner of the business which became Veranova, in 2014.

Niek Stapel, Veranova’s CEO, said: “Every effort has been made to avoid proposing the closure of the plant. This was a difficult decision to make which in no way reflects the performance or commitment of our colleagues at Annan.”

Meanwhile, Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell and constituency MSP Oliver Mundell have written a joint-letter to South of Scotland Enterprise asking what, if any, options may be available in response to the proposed 64 job losses.

Oliver Mundell said: “History shows that the pharmaceutical industry adjusts and contracts as has been shown at this factory over several decades.

“A great deal of private and public investment has been made on this site over a long period and it is important every effort is made to try to restore employment there for the longer term.”

David Mundell said: “We will be seeking clarity from the company about what has led to this decision and will, of course, contact any agencies that may be able to assist in any way.”

And South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth described the move as ‘another blow to the community’.

He added: “The announcement of the consultation came completely out of the blue, given that there has been investment on the site.

“But at the end of the day, the Annan factory will be little more than a line on a balance sheet to pharmaceutical giant Veranova.

“Although there will be calls for the company to think again about potentially closing the factory, sadly we know that when big business makes these decisions, they rarely change their mind. The people of Annan know this better than most – just look at Pinneys.

“We need all our agencies to work together to support those affected by this decision to help them find new employment as quickly as possible should this plan go ahead.”

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