Consort shuts Yorkshire manufacturing plant

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HEALTHCARE firm Consort Medical has closed its manufacturing and development operation in Sheffield, less than three years after acquiring the site through its takeover of The Medical House.

The move appears to contradict earlier indications from the company that it would seek to grow the facility within Yorkshire. Aim-listed The Medical House, a manufacturer of delivery devices for injectable drugs, was sold to Consort Medical in November 2009 and became part of its Bespak division.

A company spokesman confirmed that the Sheffield-based site was now closed with manufacturing and development operations for Bespak, Consort’s UK-based respiratory products and injectables business, now all located at King’s Lynn, in Norfolk.

She said that there was “an increasing amount of interaction” between the sites in Sheffield and King’s Lynn, adding: “It got to the point where the two teams were working so closely that Consort decided that to consolidate into one site made much better sense.”

However, a source said the closure was “probably welcomed by investors but not by the loyal staff who are now seeking employment after working so hard for the benefit it seems of others”. The Consort spokeswoman declined to comment on employee numbers or whether redundancies had been made, but she did say that Consort has been steadily recruiting at the King’s Lynn manufacturing site.

“A number of employees were offered the chance to be able to transfer their jobs over to King’s Lynn, and at the time Consort provided quite a number of support measures for anyone who wanted to search for new opportunities”, said the spokeswoman. She said: “Since Consort acquired The Medical House, injectables has become an important part of the business, so within it Consort has got a number of products in the pipeline with partners. It is something the company has very much invested in.”

Ian Townsend, former chairman and co-founder of The Medical House, said: “It’s sad for all the people who worked in such a committed and dedicated way to bring success to the company and the region.”

The Consort spokeswoman said that the decision to transfer the Sheffield operations to King’s Lynn was not driven by financial motives. She said: “It’s purely about getting operational excellence and making sure we can develop the products in the best way. This integration from Sheffield into Kings Lynn has been going on for quite a while now.

“All the products that were in development at Sheffield have been transferred to King’s Lynn. But none of those programmes have been cancelled at all. They are still ongoing.” At the time of Consort’s acquisition of The Medical House, it said it wanted to turn the then 30-strong workforce in Sheffield into a much bigger operation.