Pharmaceuticals giant GSK has shelved plans to build a £350m drugs manufacturing facility at its base in Ulverston, Cumbria, as well as warning investors that it may be ready to sell on the site as part of its disposal of a whole arm of the business.
Plans for the 1.3m sq ft expansion at Ulverston were approved by South Lakeland Council in 2014. The biopharmaceutical manufacturing, office and warehouse facilities would have been spread across three buildings.
GSK has occupied the site since 1948, and employs around 250 people in the production of key ingredients for antibiotics.
In the update to investors on its UK manufacturing network, GSK said that it would undertake “a strategic review” of the arm of the business which creates cephalosporins antibiotics, with a view to potentially selling the operation and its associated manufacturing facilities. The Ulverston site is one of two such facilities in the UK, with the other in Durham.
GSK confirmed that “the company has also decided not to proceed with a previously planned investment to build a biopharmaceutical facility in Ulverston as it no longer needs the additional capacity”.
Roger Connor, president, GSK Global Manufacturing & Supply, said: “We have a substantial manufacturing presence in the UK and continue to support the network with new investment of more than £140m in the next three years. At the same time, we have had to make some decisions which we know will cause uncertainty for some of our employees. We will do all we can to support them through this process.”
Cllr Graham Vincent of South Lakeland Council said that the council was “shocked and disappointed” by the news: “We have been in meetings and discussions with GSK in the last few weeks about unrelated matters and there was no suggestion that this announcement was on the horizon. We will work with the company, the local MP, town, county and district councillors and Cumbria LEP to offer whatever support is necessary.”