Novartis has confirmed that it will be closing its operations in Horsham later this year putting nearly 400 jobs at risk.R

The Swiss drug giant announced back in November that it was considering the site's closure as part of a global review of R&D locations, and now says research operations will cease by the end of June.

"It is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align resources to serve patients and customers better in a challenging healthcare marketplace," the firm said in a statement.

Staff numbers had been declining for some time, after plans to cut some 500 jobs in Horsham over two years - thus halving its workforce there - were unveiled back in 2011.

The future of the site remains uncertain, but Novartis said it is committed to "exploring a range of options," which "could include the use of part of the site for a science or business park".

It also noted that, with more than 2,500 staff on the books it continues to be "a major inward investor to the UK", retaining "an extensive footprint in the UK with manufacturing sites at Grimsby (Chemical Operations), Liverpool (Vaccines) and Dundee (Animal Health), commercial offices in Surrey, and a team at Sittingbourne, Kent, developing near patient diagnostic testing products”.