The Basel-headquartered company revealed that a significant portion of the total 2,600 job cuts would be felt in Switzerland. In particular, 1,450 would be removed from “traditional production technologies” while a further 700 positions would go due to downsizing within its Basel campus.
The company stated that the latter service positions would be relocated to its five global service centres, based in Ireland, India, Malaysia, Mexico and the Czech Republic. Explaining this decision, the company stated that these centres are able to provide “higher quality” services but at a “lower cost”.
On the same day Novartis announced these job losses, employees of the company’s Grimsby, UK, facility were called into a meeting where they were told the plant would be closed.
The factory operates with approximately 400 members of staff and will close in two years’ time.
An employee tweeted not long after the meeting was held, saying:
Gutted to be told this morning that my factory, Novartis Grimsby, is to close December 2020. Seriously bad news for Grimsby and our 400 staff.— Mick Crompton (@MickCrompton) September 25, 2018
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson explained the decision as part of its "transformation agenda".
The spokesperson stated that the company "will continue to balance efficiency and effectiveness: by standardizing our program management approach and giving global process owners clear accountability to lead in specific areas on behalf of the organisation, we will accelerate our progress against the numerous initiatives in scope of the transformation program."
Moving towards advanced manufacturing platforms
Despite reducing the number of its positions, Novartis tempered the news by stating that the net loss of jobs would be fewer in Switzerland due to its cell and gene therapy manufacturing plans.
The company revealed last month that it would be building a new facility in Stein, Switzerland, for CHF90m (€79m), which would result in the creation of 450 new positions.
Since Vas Narasimhan began his role as CEO at the start of the year, there have been a number of moves to restructure the business. The company sold its stake in its consumer healthcare partnership with GSK only months after he had taken the reins. More recently, it announced that it would spin out Alcon into a standalone unit, as Narasimhan looks to make his mark on the company.
The Alcon move will actually see its headquarters move to Geneva, Switzerland, and Novartis suggested that, as a result, the number of positions it holds in Switzerland will be at a similar level as in 2008, once the restructure is complete in 2022.