Sanofi looking for big efficiency gains at French plants

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt

Sanofi's ($SNY) new CEO, Olivier Brandicourt, warned union workers in June that for the company to grow, its French manufacturing operations needed to get more efficient, but he didn't say by how much. They need to improve a lot, it turns out.

Union members provided Reuters with a document that indicates Brandicourt wants to see a 20% to 25% boost in productivity over three years to put them more in line with what it costs the drugmaker to manufacture drugs at its facilities in Eastern Europe. It indicates Sanofi intends to keep a strong manufacturing presence in its home country, but Reuters reports that union members believe the plan will lead to job cuts.

A company spokeswoman told the news service in an email that the company wants "to preserve our competitiveness in France in a sustainable way," adding that "Only one negotiation process is currently underway at the level of pharmaceutical production in France, which excludes vaccines, animal health, biological products." She also pointed out that the company has added more production staff this year in France than in previous years.

Some details are expected to be offered when Brandicourt lays out his 5-year strategic plan for Sanofi during an investor day event in November. After he announced a plan in July to reorganize the company into 5 operating units, a Sanofi spokesperson told French news media that the revamp did not envision significant jobs cuts.

- read the Reuters story