Roche ($RHBBY) has been doing better than many of its peers on the earnings side of things and is having to ramp up some of its operations to meet demand. And it is finding that it can be a challenge to keep a growing workforce trained, so to make sure they get what it needs, the Swiss drugmaker is building a $105 million training center at a key plant in its home country.
Roche says that the plant in Kaiseraugst in northern Switzerland has grown about 30% in the last 5 years, according to Reuters, and now has about 1,600 workers. The plant handles quality control and drug packaging. An article from Bilanz says Roche has already invested about SFr400 million ($423 million) in the Swiss plant and that the facility is currently training about 300 people in 14 "careers" to keep up with demand.
The piece says the SFr100 million training center will be a 12,000-square-meter, 5-story facility including labs and classrooms. The company will start work on the new facility in September and expects to have it complete in October 2014, Reuters reported. "The need for education and training opportunities for our employees is increasing," Matthias Baltisberger, head of Roche Basel-Kaiseraugst said in a statement.
Roche will be reporting second-quarter earnings soon, but in the first quarter the drugmaker said cancer meds and an uptick for its flu vaccine led to a 13% increase in U.S. pharma sales and 6% growth in overall sales.
Drugmakers open, expand and close facilities as demand dictates, and Roche is not the only Big Pharma player to announce a change in operations in Europe in recent weeks. Sanofi ($SNY) said last month it had finished up production at an old plant in London and moved its equipment to facilities in Germany and Italy, laying off about 450 workers. Pfizer ($PFE) just this month said it was investing about $130 million in two plants in Ireland. In May, however, the U.S. drugmaker said it would close a plant in that country at Little Island, Cork, and eliminate more than 135 jobs.
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