Amid Western cuts, Roche staffs up in China

Roche may have launched a cost-cutting drive in the U.S. and Europe, but it's planning a growth spurt in China. The Swiss drugmaker plans to boost its Chinese workforce by 25 percent this year, China Daily reports. Given that the company has 3,000 employees there now, that could mean 750 new jobs.

Just last week, Roche announced "Operational Excellence," an effort to cut costs. The company cited pricing pressures in the U.S. and Europe, plus a series of development setbacks, as the impetus for the restructuring. It wouldn't estimate how many jobs might have to go, but sources told the media in advance of the announcement that the workforce cuts would be substantial.

CEO Severin Schwan (photo) told the Chinese newspaper that Roche is taking the opposite approach there. "For China, the situation is totally different, therefore, in China, we will continue to invest and also expect the headcount in China to increase," he said.

Roche is not alone; as the Chinese market grows and the government invests more in healthcare, drugmakers are scrambling to grow their operations there. Nor is Roche alone in laying off folks in the West while staffing up in Asia. Eli Lilly announced thousands of layoffs last year--but noted that it would be hiring in China at the same time.

- read the China Daily coverage
- get the article in the Wall Street Journal