Glaxo to consolidate employees in Montco facilities

Posted: March 14, 2013

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said Tuesday that it would consolidate Philadelphia-area employees, with about 1,900 moving from two facilities in Upper Merion to an existing facility in Upper Providence during the next two to four years.

Glaxo spokeswoman Melinda Stubbee said there were no planned layoffs in this portion of the corporate consolidation. However, Glaxo will also move a unit from Cambridge, Mass., to Upper Providence, but not all 60 employees in that unit will be offered jobs in the new location.

Patrick Vallance, Glaxo's president of pharmaceuticals research and development, delivered the news to employees Tuesday via a global webcast from Upper Merion.

"Part of the vision is to create a work environment for the next 10 to 20 years that is vibrant and gives people a chance to work side by side," Stubbee said. "It made sense to have most of them in one location."

Glaxo has about 1,650 employees in what it calls Upper Merion East and Upper Merion West, off Swedeland Road. When the moves are completed, about 400 will remain in the East facility, and the rest will move to Upper Providence. The West facility has about 1.2 million square feet and probably will be sold, Stubbee said.

Glaxo rents about 200,000 square feet in the Renaissance Corporate Center on Renaissance Boulevard in Upper Merion. The lease there will not be renewed and the approximately 630 employees will move to Upper Providence.

Glaxo, which is based in London, also is finishing a move of about 1,300 employees from offices at Franklin Plaza in Center City to a new building in the Navy Yard, for which it signed a 15-year lease.

Glaxo's 2012 full-year profit was $7.43 billion, a decline from $8.55 billion in 2011. During a conference call with reporters after the financial results were released in February, chief executive officer Andrew Witty said the company would close some manufacturing facilities in Europe, which has had the greatest revenue declines, due in part, to government price pressures.

Witty said Glaxo also hoped to save an additional $1 billion a year by 2016 with greater use of enzyme technology in the production of medicine. Witty estimated that one-third of Glaxo's research was "amenable" to this process. Boiling down the science, he said enzymes will do the work of heat and pressure in part of the production chain, thereby reducing the need for solvents and big factories.

"We've made a significant commitment to Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley," Witty said in February. "Some of the R&D facilities will benefit from what we've talked about today. How that affects our footprint, we'll have to see."


Contact David Sell at dsell@ phillynews.com or 215-854-4506. Read his blog at www.philly.com/phillypharma and on Twitter @phillypharma.

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