AstraZeneca slashes 7,300 jobs

Posted on 2 Feb 2012

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has announced plans to cut 7,300 jobs in order to save £1bn a year from 2014.

The restructuring is estimated to cost £1.32bn, delivering £1bn worth of annual savings from 2014. Out of this global figure, 2,200 R&D positions and 1350 manufacturing roles will be axed.

The company currently has eight sites and currently employs 8,000 people in the UK but has refused to name where the cuts will fall. A spokesperson told The Manufacturer that this is because the internal process is still ongoing – and that staff still need to be informed.

The company has said that the changes will accelerate its R&D transformation, which the company unveiled in January 2010, creating a simpler and more innovative R&D organisation with a lower and more flexible cost base. “Excess capacity in certain R&D functions will be reduced, matching resources to AstraZeneca’s more focused R&D portfolio,” the company stated.

AstraZeneca has labeled the cuts as part of plans to improve the supply chain efficiency and will outsource some of its manufacturing activity, particularly the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Despite the company claiming on its website that it is “committed to jobs creation”, the redundancies come on top of the 21,600 jobs that have been cut since 2007. Simon Moore, UK corporate communications manager at AstraZeneca, told The Manufacturer that the company will look into changing this statement on its UK website following the announcement.

AstraZeneca has labeled the cuts as part of its plan to improve supply chain efficiency and outsource a greater amount of its manufacturing activity, particularly the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

David Brennan, CEO at AstraZeneca, said: “Today’s initiatives should be seen in this strategic context as we continue to reshape our business to improve productivity and innovation and with it our long-term ability to compete in a rapidly changing healthcare environment. We are acutely aware that these decisions will affect many employees and we will strive to support our people as we implement these changes.”

Final estimates for programme costs, benefits and headcount impact in all areas of the business are subject to completion of applicable consultation processes.

Unite the union has described the job cuts as a blow to UK R&D, vowing to minimise the impact upon the 250-300 roles facing the axe at Astra Zeneca’s Alderly site in Cheshire. Unite will be meeting with the company to explore ways to mitigate the impact and to minimise compulsory redundancies.

Unite’s national officer Linda McCulloch said: “If the company can afford a 10 per cent hike in its dividends, then it can afford to retain these roles. These are cutting edge jobs; Astra Zeneca must do everything possible to retain these highly skilled and specialised roles. The UK can not afford to lose these advanced, scientific skills.”

The company is currently building its second of two new factories in China and has plans to further invest in manufacturing facilities in India.