A southern pharmaceutical firm has announced plans to create 300 jobs over the next five years as it expands into the North East.
Bristol Laboratories was established in 1997 in Harrow, North West London, by Thembalath Ramachandran, an experienced pharma manager who has grown the firm to a 320-strong operation which turned over in excess of £78m in the year ended June 2013.
The firm makes generic products, including Paracetamol and Amoxicillin, which are found in most UK pharmacies and NHS hospitals and it also supplies the Department of Health.
Until now the company has operated a manufacturing facility in Luton and a head office in Hertfordshire, but the firm is set to almost double in size following the acquisition of the pharmaceutical plant previously owned by household cleaner makers Reckitt Benckiser in Peterlee, County Durham.
Bristol Laboratories has acquired the facility at Whitehouse Business Park, spread across 19.1 acres, in a move that will create hundreds of new North East jobs while allowing the company to diversify and develop new generic products.
As well as doubling the size of its manufacturing capabilities, the firm is creating a research and development department in the North East, and recruitment is well underway for a range of skilled scientists.
A spokesman for Bristol Laboratories said: “The acquisition is well aligned with Bristol Laboratories’ goals of strategic positioning and diversifying the pharmaceutical business beyond UK and Europe by attracting emerging markets.
“The facility is being modified to suit Bristol Laboratories’ requirements, to increase manufacturing capacity as well as supporting analytical services for better service to its existing customers in UK and Europe.
“Recruitment is underway and it is expected to create more than 300 jobs over the next five years, boosting the local economy.
“The transaction provides Bristol Laboratories with a strong growth platform in UK, Europe and Worldwide.
“The plans are progressing on schedule and commercial operations are expected to commence by end of the year.”
Mauricio Armellini, chief economist at the North East LEP welcomed news of the job creation.
“North East LEP’s driving motto is “more and better jobs”,” he said.
“The news from Bristol Laboratories is very welcome as it will contribute towards both goals, by creating new jobs in a sector of the economy that tends to employ people with above average levels of qualifications and pay.”
Dr Simon Goon, managing director for Business Durham, added: “This is fantastic news for Peterlee and a ringing endorsement of the importance of manufacturing in County Durham. Coming hot on the heels of other inward investment successes such as Hitachi, Compound Photonics and Atom Bank, County Durham is clearly seen as a great place to do business.
“Durham County Council and Business Durham have worked extremely hard to support Bristol Laboratories in this investment and we are delighted to welcome them here, another impressive name to add to our roster of world-class companies.”