Merck KGaA has unveiled plans to trim its workforce in Germany by around 10%, or 1,100 positions, under a wider efficiency drive designed to help transform its business and boost competitiveness.

The cuts are to be made by 2015, but mainly through voluntary-resignations and early retirement programs across all divisions and functions rather than lay-offs.

In fact, the firm has promised to refrain from forced redundancies until the end of 2017, with the exception of possible site closures and transfers still under discussion.  

Merck announced details of its global efficiency program, touching all regions and businesses, in February this year. 

Among the changes, the company has now said it is planning on investing heavily - to the tune of at least 250 million euros - across its sites in Germany, which will include developing its Darmstadt-based headquarters into a state-of-the-art production and research center that can "meet the highest competitive demands". 

Darmstadt will be expanded to become an R&D center of excellence, "with a tightly networked research and knowledge platform for both pharmaceuticals and chemicals", Merck said.

The move, which was agreed by representatives of its 10,900 workforce, "is a positive development for Merck’s future and a clear commitment to Germany,” noted Kai Beckmann, member of the Executive Board and responsible for Human Resources.