Pharmacautical giant Aesica is poised for significant expansion through a growth plan which entails establishing further presence overseas, further acquisitions and the £30m investment in a new manufacturing unit.
Since leading the 2004 management buyout of BASF’s production facility in Cramlington, Dr Robert Hardy has steered the firm through rapid growth, changing the company’s core focus which has resulted in it increasing turnover and staffing levels tenfold.
From an initial 130 members of staff, it now has a 1,300 strong workforce at six development and manufacturing sites across Europe in the UK, Germany and Italy, and an extra 100 jobs are now being created at its secondary manufacturing facility, at Queenborough in Kent, where a new £30m unit opens next month.
As part of the firm’s strategy to become a top five supplier to global pharmaceuticals, chief executive Dr Hardy said the company is now looking to the United States and India, as well as exploring merger options with other large companies that fit within the firm’s strategy, boost relationships with powerhouse pharmaceuticals and bring new technology and capabilities.
Dr Hardy said: “We still don’t have a presence in the US and a large percentage of sales go to the US – in fact only a small part stay in the UK and 95% is exported globally – so we are looking to acquire a development centre and also manufacturing assets.
“We have been looking for around three years and a deal actually fell through 18 months ago, but our target is to have a presence there by the end of the year.”
Around 18 months after the MBO Aesica moved from centring on contract active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing to full-service contract development and manufacturing (CMDO), a move which has seen the company increase turnover from £25m in 2004 to close to ï¿½200m in 2013, while supporting most of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies.
Dr Hardy believes the firm has the potential to seize many more forthcoming opportunities to take turnover to £1bn.
He said: “Nine years on and we don’t just do chemistry, that’s only about a quarter of the business. Three quarters is making tablets and packing them, so sales are just under £200m now, having grown almost tenfold.
“My ambition is take turnover to £500m in 10 years, and eventually become a £1bn turnover firm, and I see Aesica becoming a major supplier to the top five pharmaceuticals in the world.
“One thing I would see changing in the future is how we make acquisitions. As the industry consolidates I see that we won’t just be buying sites, but buying larger companies – merging with bigger firms to help further growth.
“The site down at Queenborough will be opening a £30m new factory next month, that’s a significant investment – the second we have made there.
“The opportunities are there – the whole industry is having to outsource and we are at the start of a change that the car industry and IT has already gone through.”