GSK does an about-face on Irish plant shutdown

Sligo, Ireland, is rejoicing, now that GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has decided to keep its plant there open. Instead of shuttering the facility, acquired when GSK bought the dermatology specialist Stiefel Labs in 2009, the company will plow €10 million ($12.9 million) into upgrades, with the support of economic development agency IDA Ireland.

Glaxo will keep 120 of the plant's workers, reducing the payroll from its current 180. Before the Stiefel sale, the plant had a 250-employee workforce. But, as Irish officials hastened to add, Glaxo plans to add another 50 jobs there in 2014, as the upgraded facility becomes a supply hub for its Stiefel consumer products. It will also house the group's liquid bottling operation, RTÉ News says.

Plant Manager Pat McLoughlin credited employees for increasing productivity there by 40% over the past three years. "This has been a key factor in the decision to choose Sligo for future development," McLoughlin said. Stiefel opened the Sligo facility in 1975.

The Stiefel closure was planned as part of Glaxo's streamlining in manufacturing. Like its Big Pharma rivals, the company has been closing and consolidating production facilities worldwide. Most recently, the company chose to shut down an Indian API plant that employs 330.

Glaxo has also given other plants a reprieve just like this one; a former Stiefel facility in upstate New York plant will stay open, with a $56 million refit for toothpaste manufacturing. As in Sligo, Glaxo scored some economic-development funding for the Oak Hill, NY, retooling.

- read the RTÉ story