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Veranova to close Annan site

Following a review over the past few months of its of its manufacturing capacity relative to customer needs and market trends across its product portfolio, Veranova’s Macfarlan Smith subsidiary has announced a proposal to close its facility at Newbie, near Annan in Scotland. It will now conduct statutory consultation requirements under UK law.

CEO Niek Stapel said: “Every effort has been made to avoid proposing the closure of the plant. This was a difficult decision to make which in no way reflects the performance or commitment of our colleagues at Annan.”

The site has had many changes of ownership in its 43-year history. It was once part of GSK until being acquired by Rhodia Pharma Solutions in 1997. Over the next ten years, the company invested over £10 million and received a further £1.8 million grant from the Scottish Enterprise R&D Plus programme. India’s Shasun Chemicals & Drugs bought Rhodia Pharma Solutions in March 2006.

In March 2009, in view of falling demand for one of Annan’s key products making it “no longer viable”, Shasun announced that it would close the site focus all activities at the larger site at Dudley, near Newcastle. Six months later, however, Phoenix Chemicals of Merseyside acquired the site for an undisclosed amount and announced plans to reopen it. Phoenix planned to invest £4 million up to 2012 and received a £400,000 grant from the Scottish government, creating more than 50 new jobs, but itself went into administration in early 2011.

There was another rescue in 2012 when Bakhu Pharma, a start-up backed by UK and Singapore investors and led by former Phoenix executives, brought the site back into production. They in turn sold to Johnson Matthey in November 2014. The company spent to renovate and retrofit the site in order to expand the Fine Chemicals division’s large volume capacity, in response to demand for controlled substance APIs and custom manufacturing services. Last year, Johnson Matthey sold off the division, which was rebranded as Veranova.

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