Alderley Park
Miranda Dobson

Member Article

"Golden triangle" too strong a pull for Astrazeneca

Astrazeneca have spoken about why they plan to leave the North West, and how their exit could be a good thing for the region, after announcing 600 job losses last month.

Speaking at the pharmaceutical firm’s base in Cheshire, Vice President of global medicines development Chris Doherty explained the pull of the “Golden Triangle” between London, Oxford and Cambridge was too strong for Astrazeneca to ignore.

He said the company’s biological and small molecule businesses will combine in Cambridge, while its London headquarters will also move to the new site.

“We’re staying in Macclesfield, but this site is going to be significantly affected. We have about 3,000 people here and we’re going to leave about 700 or so.

“There’ll be a reduction in staff and an exit to Cambridge in 2016. The bio-pharmaceutical cluster that exists around Cambridge University has been a strong pull, and that’s really the predominant factor in why we want to move.

“That’s not good news from a North West perspective and we’re dealing with the consequences of that. We’re going to move as many staff down as possible.”

Mr Doherty spoke to members of the North West Business Leaders Team (NWBLT) forum on Tuesday evening at Astrazeneca’s 40-year old site on Alderley Park, Cheshire.

He further explained the Cheshire site would be redeveloped along with efforts from central, regional and local government, calling Alderley Park an “iconic site” for the firm.

He continued: “There’s still a future for this site. We had ideas to develop a bio-science park, […] and if that’s done well, this site could be full again.

“It’s a difficult time and we’ve still got to work through what’s the best future for this site.”

Graeme Bristow, site manager for Alderley Park, added: “Funding doesn’t travel very far or very well outside of London. It can travel as far as Cambridge, but then moving it further North is difficult.

“It is disappointing, but in a sense there’s an opportunity to build something even more robust here. The fact we’ve got a three-year window is a real opportunity to strengthen the call to action.

“Some of the companies that want to join us [at Alderley Park] wanted to come because there’s a legacy of Astrazeneca here.

“Obviously we’ve got the assets here, there’s the equipment here, and companies are looking at that and seeing there’s a real opportunity. If anything, there’s perhaps even more demand now they know that potential’s there.”

Louise Ellman, MP and Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee also attended the meeting.

She commented: “It is a very great loss to the whole region and a loss in important expertise, as well as the actual jobs. It’s also potentially a very bad signal to the region, where it’s so important to retain expertise.”

Astrazeneca are still in a consultation period with staff at the Cheshire site, and will confirm plans for Alderley Park before they exit in three years time.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Miranda Dobson .

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