Protecting endangered skills

Posted on 4 Mar 2011 by The Manufacturer

Pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi-aventis, takes further steps to protect the Dagenham community as they prepare for their 2013 closure of the local manufacturing facilities

Global provider of healthcare products and services Sanofi-aventis has appointed UK property agent Savills to join the consultancy team to advise on regenerating the pharma company’s manufacturing site in Dagenham.

In 2009 Sanofi announced that it had taken the decision to close its 108 acre, Dagenham-based manufacturing facilities which had been operational for 75 years. The decision was made due to declining demand for the drugs manufactured at the site and as a consequence the future of 457 employees was thrown into considerable doubt.

In an attempt to protect these individuals and the important skills they hold however, Sanofi chose to stage the closure of the plant over four years and to partner, in 2010, with facilities management and regeneration specialists SOG. This should allow employees time to consider their career options and create new possibilities for them as SOG offer guidance and the benefit of their experience in transforming the condemned IC headquarter in Runcorn into a thriving business park.

The partnership, announced today with Savills, will accelerate the Dagenham regeneration project and Mark Bass, Sanofi-aventis Land Development and Partnership Leader, said: “The appointment of Savills forms another significant step in our efforts to secure a lasting legacy for our Dagenham premises. Our focus throughout this process has been to work with proven experts in regenerating commercial and scientific premises in an effort to transform the 108-acre site into a facility that offers long-term benefits to the people of Dagenham.”

Voicing confidence in the long term benefit that the regeneration project will bring to them, as well as the community Neil Rowley, Director of Planning and Regeneration at Savills, says: “Sanofi-aventis has a clear objective to provide a lasting legacy for Dagenham once they vacate their site. Our master-planning expertise will deliver a planning consent that enables such a legacy to be delivered, and we are pleased to be working with this prestigious client.”

Sanofi-aventis’s management team are now embarking on a period of detailed consultation and discussion with local organisations and individuals including politicians, local authorities, chambers of commerce, sporting organisations, community groups and residents, in order to ensure that the site regeneration answers the needs of the local economy.

While growth for manufacturing is obviously an industry priority, it is likely that site consolidations and strategic relocation activity will mean that we continue to see sites, like that at Dagenham and the Pfizer facility in Kent, earmarked for closure. In these scenarios the SOG model for skills retention and continuity of regional economic wellbeing could play a crucial role in stabilising local economies and safeguarding the strategic skills which will allow the UK to compete as an advanced manufacturing nation.