Millions to be invested in manufacturing and R&D centre in Manchester

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A company already demonstrating successful manufacturing in the UK, has announced a £26 million programme to build a manufacturing and innovation centre in Manchester.

PZ Cussons has announced that in response to the rapid growth of its UK business, it is investing this amount in a new, purpose-built Innovation Centre in Agecroft, Greater Manchester. The site has recently been purchased from the North West Development Agency, and construction is under way, with planned completion in 2009. The Innovation Centre will comprise: · A new high speed Liquids Factory, significantly increasing capacity for the manufacture of the Group’s UK liquid product ranges. The new factory is expected to produce around 150 million units per year, an increase of some 50% above current capacity levels; · A new Research & Development Centre, creating an international centre of excellence, with a 25-strong team of chemists working on site in a state of the art facility to create new formulations; · A new Fragrance Development Centre, which will create and produce sophisticated perfumes for the UK business and the wider Group. The investment recognises the continuing importance of the UK market, and re-affirms the Group’s commitment to developing leading brands and product ranges within the market for which they are intended, to better meet consumer requirements and tastes. Alternative locations for the centre were considered, including Eastern Europe and the Far East. However locating the facility in Manchester allows PZ Cussons to continue to provide reliability of supply chain and speed to market for its UK retail customers. Importantly, it also allows the Group to retain its highly skilled workforce, as well as accessing the academic research of the local Manchester universities. Furthermore, the facility will enable close involvement with the UK sales and marketing team. As well as serving the UK, the R&D capability of the Innovation Centre will also be able to support the product development work of the wider PZ Cussons group. There will be approximately 150 people employed at the site, the vast majority of whom will be transferred from the existing facilities in Kersal Vale, Stockport and Ellesmere Port, which will be closed. No compulsory redundancies are planned at these sites in relation to the move. Graham Calder, Deputy Chairman, says: “Having carried out a thorough analysis of all the options open to us, it is clear that further investment in our presence in the North West of England is the right decision both for the business and for our customers. “The development of a UK centre of excellence reflects our strategy of building businesses in selected markets that have the ability to understand and respond to their particular needs. “Our UK business has been expanding rapidly and, in recent years, we have made great strides in product innovation for the UK market…This investment will provide the foundations for further long term growth."