Galway-based pharma firm to create 175 new jobs

Irish-owned Chanelle Group is making a €70m investment as it looks to break into US market for generic drugs

Chanelle Group, the largest Irish-owned manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, will create 175 jobs in a major expansion of its operations.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the new jobs during a visit to the company's headquarters in Loughrea, Co Galway on Thursday.

Chanelle, which already employs 375 people, is making a €70 million investment that will double its production capacity and add to its research and development capabilities, as it looks to break into the US market for generic drugs.

Chanelle, founded by local vet Michael Burke in the early 1980s, makes both animal health products and human medicines and expects sales to top €100 million in the year to April 2016.


New markets

It has operations in Britain, Jordan and India as well as in Loughrea.

The company said it plans to expand into new markets, including the United States, Central and South America and expects to increase sales by 65 per cent over the next five years.

“I am delighted to welcome this €70 million investment by the Chanelle Group which is a vote of confidence in Ireland as a world class manufacturing location and as a leading centre for research and development in both human and veterinary pharmaceuticals,” said the Taoiseach, “The Government wants to keep the recovery going so that innovative companies like Chanelle can continue to expand, grow and create jobs. It is most welcome that Chanelle is increasing its workforce to over 550 people in the west of Ireland and I congratulate Michael Burke on his achievements.”

New products

Mr Burke said the business intended to launch 75 new products over the next five years in both veterinary and human health.

“It is our first major assault on the US market,” he said.

“In the past five years revenue has grown 100 per cent and employment has increased by over 200 people. This growth has been driven by research and development of new products and the expansion into new markets. We invest over €8million annually in research and development and this investment will continue.”

He said the €70 million investment programme will ensure Chanelle can meet global demand “for both our market-leading pharmaceuticals and the new products in development”.

Visionary leader

Tom Kelly, head of the industrial life sciences and consumer division at Enterprise Ireland praised the "visionary and courageous leadership of its founder and CEO, Michael Burke, has resulted in a company of true excellence in its field and one that will achieve even greater success in the decade ahead".

The company has already secured full planning permission and environmental approvals for the proposed 25,000 square foot facility at its site in the IDA Industrial Park in Loughrea. Construction will begin within weeks and is expected to finish in January 2017.

“We then obviously have to get it validated and approved by the Irish authorities and then, later, by the [US regulator] FDA,” said Mr Burke, who added that the additional capacity will give the company “great potential”.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times