SKB to shed 800 jobs in shake-up

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The Independent Online
TWO HUNDRED and forty jobs are to go at pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beecham's Worthing factory as part of plans to cut the worldwide workforce of 58,000 by 800.

The job cuts result from proposals to consolidate the company's antibiotic producingoperations into "global centres of excellence". Although the West Sussex plant will be one of these five key sites, it is losing the workers under a pounds 8.2m investment intended to make it more efficient.

The initiative - which is being driven by strong competition, lower prices and a general trend to reduce industry capacity - is itself part of a four-year worldwide restructuring of operations announced at the time of the company's annual results in February.

Jan Leschly, chief executive of the company, which reported pre-tax profits of pounds 1.7bn on turnover of just over pounds 8bn last year, said the chosen plants would provide "an efficient antibiotic supply network for the future". The priority, he added, would be to develop state-of-the-art facilities with the aim of ensuring customers receive top-quality products at competitive prices.

The company is planning to sell five other sites, spread between Spain, France, Mexico and the United States that are not seen as key to this plan.