Merck added workers at Ireland plant despite drop in profits

Merck is cutting back its manufacturing footprint and thus its workforce worldwide. In Ireland, which has suffered from some of that contraction, the company's fortunes are followed closely. But a new report to the government there shows that it actually grew employment at a plant in Swords in spite of falling profits.

According to the Independent, a report recently filed by Merck ($MRK) with Ireland's Companies Registration Office said the plant grew employment by 70 to 591 employees last year. The pre-tax profits at the facility fell €50 million ($66.3 million)--26%--on higher expenses to €141 million ($186.9 million). But in the report, MSD (as it is known outside the U.S.) said the "group has moved to mitigate this risk by ensuring a strong product pipeline by increased spending on research and development."

The report says MSD has about 2,000 employees in Ireland, but the company is trimming jobs in the country. In March, it let workers at a plant in Rathdrum know that in 2014, the company would begin winding down manufacturing there and start trimming the 280 jobs. In October 2012, the company told employees at a plant in Brinny that about 20% of the jobs there would be cut. That translates to about 90 workers.

The Independent says the Swords plant is part of the Organon operations Merck picked up when it merged with Schering-Plough in 2009. Merck recently agreed to sell a legacy Organon active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) plant in the Netherlands to Aspen Pharmacare as part of Aspen's acquisition of some products from Merck. All 960 workers that support that operation are transferring to Aspen.

- here's the story from the Independent