Grimsby pharmaceutical giant Novartis celebrates two special anniversaries

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 21 Sep 2016

THE team at the Grimsby plant of the global pharmaceutical giant are preparing to mark two key milestones.

This month sees 20 years of Novartis celebrated, while the Novartis Grimsby site also chalks up 65 years of pharmaceutical production.

Novartis, Latin for 'new skills', came to the fore when Swiss giants Ciba, a long-term fixture on the South Humber Bank, and Sandoz merged in 1996.

It is now an employer of more than 400 people in Grimsby alone, and a significant economic driver for the town.

The first batch of medicine was produced in 1951, an anti-bacterial product Cibazol.

Nine years later it became Ciba Chemicals Ltd, and started producing for the agri-chemical, plastics, intermediary and additives markets, as well as pharmaceuticals.

A first merger saw the nameplate change to Ciba-Geigy in 1971, before a rebrand saw it revert to Ciba in 1993.

The company has played a strong community role throughout, and is a long-standing supporter of Business Telegraph.

Communications manager Daria Hollinshead, herself an employee of more than 30 years, said: "We are celebrating across Novartis globally with a science day to recognise the 20 years. That recognises the business we are in, where our mission is to deliver new ways to improve and extend people's lives.

"We are very proud at Grimsby that we have played a part, not only in the last two decades, but we are actually celebrating 65 years of production since we started our life as a pharmaceutical production plant.

"We continue to make medicines which have a huge impact on people's lives. We are also excited as we are starting to get involved in the manufacture of drugs for oncology which is relatively new for the site, and last year shipped the first batches of a new treatment for heart failure, with the active ingredient made in Grimsby."

A celebration takes place on Saturday for staff, families and former employees, including engaging activities for children as the team looks to stimulate interest in science. And while the past, present and future of the business will be at the core, with displays and exhibitions, there will also be a flavour of the wider family feel.

"We have always had quite a strong sports and social ethos, be it football, cricket or netball as well as trips and activities such as pantomime outings for children of staff," she said. "It is part of the heritage of Novartis and we will not only focus on the business, but the people too. It is a good opportunity and we expect pensioners and staff to be reminiscing."

Annually around £20 million is spent on the 226-acre plant to maintain the facilities manned by 400 staff. A total of 13 apprentices spanning engineering and quality control, as well as graduate placements covering engineering and finance are part of the strong culture to develop people. Around one third of staff are graduates and similarly around one third have at least 20 years of service on the site and will remember the day when Novartis was created back in 1996.

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