Virbac plans $37.9M expansion in MO, adding 144 animal health jobs

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France-based Virbac was already one of the world's top makers of products for companion animals, placing 8th on FierceAnimalHealth's top 10 list. Now the company is growing its U.S. presence with a major expansion of its Bridgeton, MO, operation that the state's governor, Jay Nixon, announced Tuesday.

Virbac will pour $37.9 million into the expansion, which is expected to add 144 jobs to the state, Nixon said in a press release announcing the expansion. "This is an exciting time--the Bridgeton expansion project can only help our manufacturing activities and further propel our mission to shape the future of animal health."

The company had already been actively creating jobs in Missouri, partnering with St. Louis Community College to develop science training programs, Nixon said. Virbac's U.S. operation is based in Fort Worth, TX, but it will be consolidating its manufacturing activities in Bridgeton, according to the release.

Virbac's most well-known brands include Allerderm to treat allergic dermatitis, and the parasiticide Sentinel, which it acquired from Eli Lilly ($LLY) last year. Strong sales of Sentinel helped drive the company's sales up 10% last year to €852.6 million ($965.5 million).

There have been some challenges to Virbac's U.S. business, however. In 2015, it ran into manufacturing issues in St. Louis that interrupted its operations and slowed its growth. Last summer, Virbac hired Steven Buchholz, formerly of Parexel ($PRXL) and Idec, to head up its quality compliance activities in the U.S.

Nixon heralded Virbac's Bridgeton expansion as a win for Missouri, which is already home to the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor. The corridor stretches from Columbia, MO, to Manhattan, KS, and encompasses more than 300 companies. The region continues to be a magnet for entrepreneurs: Last fall's Kansas City Animal Health Investment Forum drew 47 investment groups that spent a day evaluating pitches from 17 startups.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Top 10 Animal Health Companies of 2103 - Virbac