400 Novartis workers prepare for job losses at U.K. manufacturing site 

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan 2019
Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan recently told investors he is pleased with the company's efforts to cut costs by reducing excess manufacturing capacity and to modernize its production. It, however, is a rough road for the hundreds of workers losing their jobs. (Novartis)

CEO Vas Narasimhan recently told investors Novartis is well along toward its goal of consolidating its manufacturing into one "that’s much more focused on high-end technologies."

One of the facilities that is in the path of that advancement is the company's Grimsby, U.K. operation where about 400 workers are set to lose their jobs unless a buyer can be found for the site. 

Taskforce members made up of workers, local officials and Novartis met today for an update on how the closing process will proceed if a buyer does not materialize,  BusinessLive reports. The task force was formed to aid workers and the town with job losses after the closing was first announced in 2018.

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RELATED: Potential buyers size up Novartis site as layoffs loom for 400 workers

Novartis last fall said half-a-dozen companies had sized up the site for a possible purchase but nothing has been announced since. 

Novartis intends to begin layoffs in April with the closure of one facility at the site and wind down the rest of the operation by the end of the year. 

RELATED: Novartis says Ireland site will lose up to 320 jobs as productivity squeeze continues  

A site in Ireland is also being downsized. The drugmaker announced in the fall that it will close a production facility at the Ringaskiddy site in Ireland by mid-2022 as it consolidates its active pharmaceutical ingredient operations there.

Novartis has been closing and selling off bulk and formulation manufacturing facilities as it shifts to high-margin specialized drugs like cell and gene therapies and away from older meds and generics. 

"We also are advancing our efforts in procurement and manufacturing, and are really reducing the excess inventories that we’re holding and also deploying data and digital much more aggressively across the manufacturing network," Narasimhan said on an earnings call two weeks ago.

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