Asterand job cuts 'not connected' with Russian ban

By Emilie Reymond

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Contract research organization

Asterand said it is to slash 10 per cent of its total workforce in
a cost-cutting strategy although it is not a knock-on effect of the
recent ban on export of human samples from Russia.

The contract research organisation (CRO), which employs 40 staff at its Royston, UK site, said it would make 9 redundancies as part of a restructure announced two weeks ago. The firm said it has laid out the strategy to grasp hold of profitability and achieve a positive cashflow as soon as possible, as well as scale up the business in 2008. Asterand, which specialises in the supply of human tissue for research purposes, will consolidate all its UK operations in Royston in a bid to save £700,000 (€1m) per year. "Our strategy is to reduce costs in order to get profitable and also improve the services we offer our customers; there is a lot of change going on,"​ Martyn Coombs, Asterand CEO, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. However, Coombs stressed that these redundancies and the overhaul of the company's UK operations are in no way connected to the recent ban on the transportation of human samples from Russia, of which the company is currently assessing the financial impact. "Our strategy has been planned for a couple of months and is unconnected to the issues we have had with our supplies of samples from Russia,"​ said Coombs. The firm is still assessing the business implications of last month's sudden banning of biological sample exports from Russia, which was officially lifted on 9 June. The company, which sources a "significant"​ portion of its tissue supplies from donors in Russia - although Coombs would not disclose exactly what percentage - has not been able to receive any samples from the country since the end of May. "We cannot say that the ban has been lifted, there are some restrictions and the situation is not back to normal,"​ said Coombs. "But there are grounds for optimism and we are working at the moment to evaluate the impact." ​ The company said earlier this month that it was trying to establish alternative donor sites outside Russia as a contingency. Coombs said Asterand would reveal in a few weeks how great the financial impact was on the company's business and exactly what measures will be taken.

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