Hundreds of job losses as drugs firm to close Grimsby site

Novartis site in Grimsby Image copyright Google
Image caption The firm will close the site by 2020 but said it was "not as a result of the UK leaving the European Union"

Hundreds of jobs will be lost when a major employer in Grimsby closes its pharmaceutical factory as part of "global transformation".

Drugs firm Novartis employs about 400 people at the site off Moody Lane in the town but it is to close by 2020.

The firm says the job losses are part of a major restructuring of operations.

Cleethorpes Conservative MP Martin Vickers said the announcement was "a massive blow" which had knock-on implications for the area.

Novartis said the move was "not linked to the UK decision to leave the European Union".

"Novartis has been a part of the Grimsby community for many years so this has been a very difficult decision," a company statement said.

"The Grimsby site is an effective, well-running operation that is testament to the hard-working and dedicated employees."

Novartis currently employs about 1,500 people in the UK.

Coun Peter Wheatley, of North East Lincolnshire Council said: "This is terrible news for local people who work at the plant.

"Novartis has been a part of the North East Lincolnshire economy for more than 50 years in one way or another."

David Talbot, chief executive of Immingham-based Catch - an organisation that develops workers' skills and qualifications in the Humber region -, said: "I do understand that it's not linked to any of the EU discussions.

"I believe that it's just a strategic decision, but of course our thought go out to the staff, the 400 people"

Mr Vickers said: "It's not just the loss of around 400 jobs, it's the knock-on effect for contact and supply chain and so on, so it's a massive blow."

'Committed to UK'

Haseeb Ahmad, Novartis UK country president, said: "This decision has been made alongside broader changes to our business globally, and as a result of the changes in our product portfolio which now focuses on more specialised medicines, reflective of today's changing healthcare needs.

"Novartis remains committed to the UK and believes that the UK is a world-leader in life sciences."

The firm, which has its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, said the Grimsby closure would be phased until the end of 2020 and it would be consulting affected staff.

Novartis added it was hoping to "secure a future for the site and was working to identify potential partners".

The GMB union has been approached for comment.

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