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Pfizer spares another 300 UK research staff from cutbacks

Reduces the number of layoffs at its UK R&D unit in Sandwich, Kent

Pfizer has reduced the number of layoffs at its R&D unit in Kent, UK, with 650 workers now expected to be retained at the site, some 300 more than planned.

Another 250 staff at the Sandwich facility are being transferred to other sites in the Pfizer R&D network, particularly units in Cambridgeshire and Surrey, according to local news reports.

The consultation process on the job losses came to a conclusion last week, with the news that 800 workers have already lost their jobs and another 700 are due to go by the end of 2012. 

This is the second time Pfizer has pared back its plans for cuts at Sandwich since announcing plans to close down the research site in January.

At the time, the pharma company said it planned to do away with almost all of the 2,400 positions there, but in May Pfizer said it would keep 350 pharmaceutical sciences positions open because it had been unable to outsource their functions to a contract research organisation as planned.

The latest 300 positions to be granted a reprieve are fulfilling "critical functions" for R&D projects, according to a BBC report which cites Dr Annette Doherty, head of research and site leader at the Sandwich facility.

It remains to be seen how long the additional workers will be retained, however, with Pfizer suggesting it would continue to review its presence in Sandwich over the coming years. 

The Sandwich site - now renamed the Discovery Park - remains on the market in the hope of attracting other high-tech industries to the location. Doherty said the remaining Pfizer staff will be located in three buildings which ideally would be leased from the future owner.

The pharma company had previously announced worldwide job losses of 6,000 to be made before the end of 2015 in the wake of its acquisition of Wyeth in 2009.

Sandwich is just one R&D facility affected by the cutbacks, with more than 1,000 positions also going at its R&D facility in Groton, US.

7th November 2011

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