£50 million to secure factory’s future

Scottish finance minister John Swinney stops to chat with GSK staff during his tour on Thursday.'Gable End Photography
Scottish finance minister John Swinney stops to chat with GSK staff during his tour on Thursday.'Gable End Photography

A £50 MILLION investment in GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Montrose factory will give the site an “utterly secure future for years to come”, according to Scottish finance minister John Swinney.

The company announced last week a £100 million allocation to its Scottish manufacturing operations which will be divided equally between Montrose and its plant at Irvine in Ayrshire.

More than half of the 100 jobs created will be in Montrose, setting the factory and its current 250 employees on a secure foundation for years.

It is part of a £500 million investment programme confirmed in the wake of last week’s Budget in which the UK Government said it will implement a ‘patent box’ to encourage investment in research and development and related manufacturing in the UK, by introducing a lower rate of corporation tax on profits generated from UK-owned intellectual property.

Mr Swinney visited the Cobden Street factory on Thursday afternoon to congratulate management and staff personally on their success.

He said: “It’s a great announcement GSK has made about Montrose and I want to thank the leadership of GSK for the way in which they have engaged with the Scottish and UK Governments over the last couple of years on their investment plans.

“I’m familiar with the Montrose area and I’m acutely aware of the concern there was in this plant in 2003 and 2004 about its future, but this enormous investment is bringing new processes here and creating additional employment, cementing the position of this plant for many decades to come.”

Mr Swinney added that the investment had been made possible due to the “enormous strength” of the Montrose factory which is a tribute to the quality of its staff.

He continued: “I’m delighted the Scottish economy can attract investment of this type based on the strength and capability of the workforce.”

There had been hopes that Montrose would be the preferred site of the company’s new biopharmaceutical plant but the £350 million facility will be built at Ulverston in the north of England.

Montrose will become the first UK GSK site to participate in the company’s vaccine manufacturing supply chain and around £25 million will go towards the production of aluminium adjuvants, high-tech agents used in the manufacture of vaccines to help stimulate the body’s immune system.

New funding will also be dedicated to the manufacture of key materials for GSK’s portfolio of respiratory medicines and the new manufacturing unit will be built on a brownfield site within GSK’s boundary.

The announcement is the latest chapter in the factory’s changing fortunes. Less than 10 years ago GSK announced the site would close at the end of 2006, but it was granted a temporary reprieve in 2005 due to increased demand for the company’s flu treatment Relenza, the active ingredient of which was manufactured locally.

In 2006 it was announced that GSK intended to invest £35 million in its facilities which helped to secure its future, but two years later 55 jobs were axed. A month-long business review found that the workforce would have to be reduced to 250 by the middle of 2009 for the factory to remain sustainable.

Following last week’s announcement, site director Andy Ross said: “This has come at the end of a roller-coaster ride of a decade for this facility. It’s a ringing endorsement of GSK’s commitment to the capability of the workforce in Montrose, which is the thing that most makes me proud.

“We put forward an excellent case for the biopharm factory to come to Montrose, which would have resulted in a fantastic facility. We’d have liked to have seen it here but today we have seen a long-term commitment to Montrose and the Angus and Scottish economy.”