GlaxoSmithKline is to axe more than 300 jobs, abandon plans to build a new site in Cumbria and sell off its Horlicks brand in the UK.
The FTSE 100 giant has announced a reorganisation of its manufacturing network in Britain which will include the closure of the plant in Slough where Horlicks is made.
Sales of the malted milk drink in the UK are dwarfed by the brand’s revenues in India and south east Asia, where Glaxo will retain control of the business.
Glaxo is also selling its sports supplement brand Maxi Nutrition in the UK – confirming a move first reported by Sky News.
The two brands’ combined sales in Britain amount to around £30m a year.
Glaxo’s proposals also include the outsourcing of some jobs at a separate drug-making plant in Worthing, West Sussex.
In addition, a previously planned biopharmaceutical facility in Ulverston, Cumbria – which would have created hundreds of jobs – will not go ahead as the company “no longer needs the additional capacity”.
Image: Glaxo chief executive Emma Walmsley
The proposals for Worthing and Slough will result in the loss of around 320 jobs over the next four years.
Glaxo is also reviewing the future of part of its antibiotics business with sites in Ulverston – where it employs 375 people – as well as Barnard Castle in County Durham and in Italy, including a possible sale.
Meanwhile the company said it planned to invest more than £140m at its factories in Ware in Hertfordshire, Barnard Castle and Montrose in Scotland.
This relates to the expansion of manufacturing of HIV and respiratory medicines and is in addition to a £275m investment announced last year.
The latest announcements come three months after Emma Walmsley took over as chief executive of the London-based group, which employs 17,000 people in the UK including 5,000 in manufacturing.
Roger Connor, Glaxo’s president of global manufacturing and supply, said the company still had a “substantial manufacturing presence in the UK”.
He added: “At the same time, we have had to make some decisions which we know will cause uncertainty for some of our employees.
“We will do all we can to support them through this process.”
Glaxo said none of the announcements were the result of Brexit.
The company, mainly known for its drugs research and manufacturing, has been disposing of some of its consumer goods brands in recent years – hiving off Lucozade and Ribena to Japan’s Suntory for £1.3bn in 2013.