Almac expanding in U.K., investing $24M in Charnwood tech park

When AstraZeneca ($AZN) abandoned its campus in Charnwood in the U.K. some years back, it left new owners to figure out what would be done with the facilities. Now CDMO Almac is taking over some of them and will build them out to expand its own formulation and manufacturing operations.

Graeme McBurney, Almac managing director

The Northern Ireland-based company said on Monday that it has struck a deal to take over the formulation development and analytical testing facilities at the 70-acre Charnwood Campus in Loughborough, U.K. The current owners turned the campus into a science, technology and enterprise park after AstraZeneca abandoned the facilities, and dumped about 1,200 jobs, with its 2011 decision to move its R&D operations to the Cambridge, U.K., tech hub.

Almac intends to invest about £16 million ($24 million) with plans to expand both nonpotent and potent solid oral dose processing. It expects to have the new facilities up and running by Q1 of 2017 and says it could have 180 workers within 5 years. Graeme McBurney, managing director of Almac Pharma Services, said the new operations would add to the company's "development and niche commercial manufacturing services."

Last year Almac invested £54 million ($90 million) to expand its Northern Ireland operations, with the plan to add 348 jobs over 5 years. Almac already had more than 2,100 people at its Craigavon headquarters.

The contract manufacturing industry is in the midst of an investment and consolidation binge. Companies like Albany, NY-based AMRI ($AMRI), Switzerland-based Lonza, and most notably Durham, NC-based Patheon have been beefing up operations, both organically and through M&A.

- here's the release