GlaxoSmithKline boss’ commitment to Scots plants

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THE head of Britain’s biggest pharmaceuticals company has pledged his commitment to its Scottish plants as part of its focus on research and development (R&D).

In an interview with The Scotsman, Sir Andrew Witty, below, admitted GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) Montrose facility had come close to shutting, but the company would now be “significantly expanding our footprint in Scotland”.

His comments, made during a visit to investors in Edinburgh, will be seen as a vote of confidence in the pharmaceuticals industry in Scotland and in GSK’s plants at Irvine and Montrose. The company also promises more skilled jobs.

Witty said GSK wanted to expand the Montrose facility, which had been in doubt some years ago.

“There was a debate about whether we needed Montrose and it was heading down the path of not being needed,” Witty said. “But I had a different view to my predecessor.

“We needed to make our plants more efficient, then bring production back that had been offshored … By being more efficient we can compete. It is a lesson for the whole of the UK in terms of competing as a manufacturer. We should not give up.”

GSK is the biggest investor in life sciences in Scotland. Last March it announced it was pumping £100 million into its Scottish facilities, including upgrades and making the plants more environmentally friendly.