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More than 120 jobs at risk as major North East employer launches restructure

A total of 126 jobs are potentially set to go at the three North East Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK sites.

Major Teesside employer Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK has announced more than 120 jobs are at risk in the region as part of a global restructure.

News has been broken to the firm’s 1,096 regional staff that bosses are carrying out a review of its Small Scale business unit, which will see employee numbers slashed around the world. In all, the pharma company is set to lose 240 jobs within its Small Scale business division – and 126 of those roles are in jeopardy at its three UK sites, all of which are in the North-east, at its main UK headquarters in Billingham and bases in Wilton and Darlington.


The move came as the company released its latest business update, outlining its decision to make changes within the business unit, impacting employees at its Teesside sites, and sites in Texas, North Carolina and Massachusetts, in the US. The firm said that the wider Japan-based Fujifilm Corporation continues to invest considerably in the biotechnologies business, developing both its Small Scale and Large Scale facilities.
However, it said the Small Scale business unit is being downsized after taking a hit from the “short-term challenge” of a drop in venture capital investments being made into early-stage research projects, particularly in the cell and gene therapies market.
In the statement, the company said: “This restructuring is aligned to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ strategic direction and intended to strengthen its Small Scale Business and elevate its operational and financial performance. It lays the groundwork for a solid foundation from which to build and unlock opportunity in the market, allowing the Company the ability to thrive and reinforcing its position as a leading competitor in the industry.”

Despite the looming redundancies, the company – which also has bases in Denmark and the US, where it has five sites and one due to come online next year – is continuing with a significant investment programme in the North-east.

The company announced in 2021 that it would be creating up to 300 new jobs on Teesside as part of a £400m investment programme. The project is set to double the size of its Billingham plant, making it the largest multi-modal biopharmaceutical manufacturing site in the UK. The new facilities are expected to fully come online in the next two years.

A Fujifilm company spokesperson said: “We recognize the impact that this will have on all our colleagues at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK and our wider Teesside community. All colleagues will receive Fujifilm’s full support through this challenging period. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies remains committed to the UK and will continue to invest in growing its UK operations.”

Following the announcement, Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, called for a national strategy to aid businesses through challenging times.
He said: “I am saddened by yesterday’s news from Fujifilm Diosynth about the potential job losses of more than 100 members of staff. It’s a tough time for the market and the downturn in research and development has had a direct impact on the loss of quality, skilled jobs.

“This is a common issue across the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector, and we have seen this recently with job losses at Mitsubishi and the closure of the CF ammonia plant in Billingham. We need a national industrial strategy to work with and support businesses through the tough times to keep plants open and to preserve skilled jobs.”

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