Drug giant AstraZeneca is to close a research centre in the UK with the loss of up to 1,200 jobs, workers were told today.
The site near Loughborough in Leicestershire will close next year, although some of the affected staff will be offered the chance to transfer to other areas of the company. A smaller facility in Cambridge will also close.
The cuts are part of 8,000 worldwide job losses announced by the firm in January.
AstraZeneca is Loughborough's second-biggest employer after the local university. The 69-acre site specialises in research into finding medicines for respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
There were suggestions that the company had to decide between closing the Loughborough site or its plant in Cheshire, which carries out similar work.
In recent years the firm has spent an estimated £100 million expanding the Loughborough site, which was set up by Fisons in 1993 and then bought by Swedish firm Astra two years later. Astra merged with the British-based Zeneca Group in 1999.
The firm said in a statement: "AstraZeneca today shared with its employees further details of proposals designed to improve the productivity of its global research and development organisation.
"The proposed changes, first outlined at the end of January, include focusing research efforts on a smaller number of disease areas and consolidating activities on to a reduced global footprint through the merger of some sites. Some of our sites will close."
The company said it was also interested in selling its Arrow Therapeutics business, which occupies a small facility in London.
In other changes, the firm said pharmaceutical development work at the Avlon facility near Bristol will end, with some roles transferring to Macclesfield or Alderley Park in Cheshire.
The number of people working in research and development at Alderley Park, the company's largest UK R&D site, will increase as employees transfer from other sites.
A total of 3,500 research and development jobs will be cut across the world, including the UK, Sweden and the United States.
Anders Ekblom, executive vice president of development at AstraZeneca, said: "AstraZeneca's strategic commitment to investing in innovative research and development is as clear as ever.
"We have made real strides in improving our efficiency in recent years, but there is a continuing need to adapt our organisation in anticipation of future challenges. These proposed changes will help us create a more focused, innovative and productive company.
"I am also acutely aware that these proposed changes will have a significant impact on our people and we are committed to providing support to them."
Linda McCulloch, Unite's national officer for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, said: "This is a devastating blow to the workforce at Loughborough. The closure of this site will damage the UK's pharmaceutical research and development capabilities.
"Unions will be in formal discussions with the company and will do everything possible to minimise the impact of this announcement."Reuse content