Lonza plots more than 200 layoffs at clinical manufacturing site in California

Just a few months after Lonza unveiled hundreds of new hires, the Swiss CDMO juggernaut is telegraphing nearly as many layoffs in California.

Lonza is axing 218 jobs at its site in Hayward, California, according to a new Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) alert. The 120,000-square-foot site focuses on clinical production of biotherapeutics, bioreagents and biomaterials, according to Lonza.

The layoffs will go into effect on Feb. 2, according to the WARN notice, which listed the rationale behind the job culls as a permanent closure.

Lonza is preparing to decommission the mammalian clinical manufacturing facility in Hayward, a spokesperson confirmed via email. The phased closure is expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2024 and conclude in the first quarter of 2025, she said. 

"This decision has been reached as CDMO market demand is focused on combined and integrated clinical-commercial offerings, and the Hayward site provides limited growth opportunities beyond its clinical scope," the spokesperson explained. 

Lonza says it will continue to support impacted employees and existing customers.

Lonza got its hands on the Hayward facility back in 2017. The Swiss CDMO bought the site from Shire, which had inherited the facility in 2016 as part of its $32 billion buyout of Baxter spinout Baxalta. 

Lonza’s hefty layoff round comes shortly after the company announced multiple hiring sprees in October.  

At the start of that month, Lonza announced an expanded collaboration with an unnamed “major biopharmaceutical partner,” alongside plans to build a dedicated commercial filling line at its site in Stein, Switzerland. As part of the project, Lonza said it planned to add roughly 115 jobs.

A few weeks after that, Lonza extended another long-term collaboration with an unnamed partner to crank up commercial supplies of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) at its site in Visp, Switzerland, where it unveiled the addition of two new bioconjugation suites. At the time, Lonza said it would hire some 180 new workers to staff the suites, where operations were expected to come online in 2026.

Meanwhile, the parade of layoffs and site closures that affected biopharma workers in 2023 doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the new year.

Already this week, Gilead Sciences said it's moving a biologics development and manufacturing outfit in Oceanside, California, to its Foster City campus in the same state. Aside from that shift, Gilead is abandoning prior plans to expand its manufacturing footprint in Oceanside.