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Roche seek “reputable buyer”

Roche Ireland is now seeking a “reputable buyer” to purchase its Clarecastle manufacturing facility, according to its managing director, Gerry Cahill.

While there has been no definite closure date announced, it is expected the plant will  shutdown completely at the end of 2018 or early in 2019, in the event that no buyer is found.

“Roche are looking for a reputable buyer, someone who has experience or who already owns other sites. Roche would expect that you would have an experienced team or owner for a site like this. We would also expect they would bring in some of their own products,” said Mr Cahill.

Mr Cahill has confirmed there will be no immediate job losses in Roche’s manufacturing facility in the short term, despite Thursday’s confirmation of its shock closure over a three-year period.

The Ennis native and resident stated it is business as usual in Roche and noted there will be no redundancies before June 2016.

After that period, in the event of a reduction in production in its Clarecastle plant, it is expected the company will take another look at employment levels at that stage.

With the IDA now preparing plans to market the sale of the company as a going concern, Mr Cahill expects the authority will contact other multinationals and other pharmaceutical companies to see if they are interested in purchasing the site.
Mr Cahill confirmed the closure was a global decision made by the company as it impacts four sites.

In an interview with the Clare Champion, he explained the volume of their products have reduced, which have resulted in spare capacity in their facilities and the new products in the pipeline require small volume.

“There is a mismatch between our current products and the products that Roche have in the pipeline,” he said.

He outlined the decision relayed to staff on Thursday at 4.30 pm as part of a multi site announcement was to sell the site and stressed the company would now focus on this over the next six to nine months to try and find an appropriate buyer.

“Failure to find a buyer would result in a downsizing over time, but that is not what our primary concern is at the moment,” he explained.

Asked what Government supports were being provided to the company, Mr O’Neill the IDA would be liaising with them and providing whatever assistance it had at its disposal. Mr Cahill said Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton was very supportive when he spoke to him on Thursday morning.

“The IDA has been in contact with Roche and may visit the site in the coming weeks. The IDA will also help in looking for a potential buyer.

He acknowledged Thursday was a very difficult day for all of its employees.

“Clarecastle has been a significant and successful manufacturing site since 1974 and theproposal for Roche to exit the site is in no way a reflection on the performance of thepeople or the site.

“This is a very significant announcement as Roche has been in this site for 41 years. Lots of employees have been in the plant for a long time and a lot of them live in the locality,” he said.

While most of Roche’s 240 employees live in Clare and Limerick, Mr O’Neill pointed out some of them also resided in Tipperary and South Galway. He estimated the number of subcontractors working in Roche varied from 100 to 200 depending on the level of activity in the company at a particular time.

“There was a shock on Thursday. The dust is starting to settle on Friday. People are coming to the realisation that Roche Ireland’s site in Clarecastle will have to continue to deliver medicines for our patients, refocus and put our best foot forward to sell the site.

“While this is quite a shock for everyone and their families, ultimately we supply medicines for patients so it is critical we maintain supply of those medicines.

” Anyone who wants to purchase a site like this will only be interested in purchasing a site that is performing well. Roche Ireland will have to continue performing at a very high level over the coming months.

“Roche will do its utmost to support our colleagues during this transition,” he said.Roche has informed the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the IDA of the proposal to exit Clarecastle, and the company is committed to working with the Minister and the IDA to seek a buyer for the site.

Roche will now enter into formal consultation with employees and their representatives. The company is committed to fully engaging with all employees and has pledged to provide all the necessary and appropriate support.

The planned exit results from a review of Roche’s worldwide manufacturing network for small molecules that highlighted current underutilisation as a result of the company’s evolving portfolio.

A new generation of specialised medicines based on small molecules requires novel manufacturing technologies and will be produced in lower volumes than traditional medicines.

Dan Danaher


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