The south-east of the UK is the latest place to feel the effects of Pfizer’s restructuring plans as the drugs giant has announced that is to close all of its remaining manufacturing operations in Sandwich, Kent.

The move is expected to result in the loss of approximately 420 jobs, phased over the next two years, and Pfizer said that its priority will be “to support colleagues affected by this decision, including redeployment where possible”, as well as re-training. The firm added that “every effort will be made to mitigate the impact” on employees and the local community.

The end of manufacturing at Sandwich, where around 3,500 people are currently employed “is no reflection on the performance of our talented and skilled workforce”, said Colin Seller, manufacturing site leader. He added that “we recognise that this may be a difficult time for colleagues and our priority now, and over the coming weeks and months, is to support our people through this process”.

Tony Maddaluna, vice president of Pfizer global manufacturing, said the decision was made with regret after 53 years operating from Sandwich. He went to note that this is simply the latest in a number of global manufacturing changes “to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible". In January, Pfizer said it would be cutting jobs and closing plants in order to save up to $2 billion in expenses by the end of 2008, a move which will result in the elimination of 10,000 posts, or 10% of the USA-headquartered firm’s total work force.

Pfizer added that it remains committed to its R&D programmes at Sandwich which, as announced earlier this year, is one of its four key global research sites and the main one for allergy and respiratory, genitory-urinary, pain, vaccines, gastrointestinal and hepatology research, as well as for antiretrovirals.