Galway pharma business to create 350 jobs over next five years

Loughrea-based Chanelle Group announces further €86m expansion even as Tánaiste opens latest €10m investment

Chanelle founder and owner Michael Burke: “We’ve doubled turnover in the last five years, and expect to double turnover again within the next five years.” Photograph: Michael Dillon

Chanelle founder and owner Michael Burke: “We’ve doubled turnover in the last five years, and expect to double turnover again within the next five years.” Photograph: Michael Dillon

a
 

Ireland’s largest indigenous drug company has announced an €86 million investment plan that will see the creation of 350 jobs over the next five years.

Chanelle, the privately-held Loughrea-based company founded by Michael Burke that operates in both human and animal generics, said construction would commence in 2019 on a new manufacturing facility for liquid and paste medicinal products targeting the US market. It will bring employment in the business to around 850.

The announcement came as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney officially opened the latest expansion of the company’s manufacturing capacity at its Galway base.

The €10 million unit is Europe’s first dedicated Spot On manufacturing facility built to European and US quality standards. Spot On is a topical treatment used globally to protect dogs and cats against harmful parasites.

“The investment announced today is the largest by Michael Burke in the history of the company,” Mr Coveney said, “and through Enterprise Ireland, the Government is pleased to support Michael as he grows Chanelle Group and creates valuable employment here in Loughrea. I wish Michael and his company continued success in the future.”

Mr Burke, the owner and managing director of Chanelle Group, said the group had invested over €55 million since 2016 and created 175 jobs in that period.

“Over the next five years we will increase the pace of our investment programme. We’ve doubled turnover in the last five years, and expect to double turnover again within the next five years. This growth has been driven by our focus on R&D, and I remain firmly focused on innovation.

“We will invest more than €45 million in R&D over the next five years in our five research laboratories operating in Ireland and the Middle East. We develop 15 to 20 new products every year; this level of innovation is unheard of in many larger multinational companies.”

The company founder has stated previously that he has had to recruit abroad, particularly in India, for many of the higher qualified roles on offer in the business.

Licences

Chanelle specialises in generics – drugs that have come off patent. It has 1,700 licences for animal health products in the European Union – the most of any company, including the multinationals. Outside the EU, it holds a further 500 licences. On the human medicine side it holds 800 licences worldwide.

Anything up to six years before a drug comes off patent, Mr Burke will have one of his four R&D teams developing products to compete in the market when the time comes.

Mr Coveney said Chanelle was one of Ireland’s leading exporters in veterinary and human drugs “trading with over 90 countries worldwide”.

“With over 96 products in its R&D pipeline, Chanelle is well positioned to continue to expand into new markets,” the Minister said.

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinamon said the €86 million investment programme was “one of the largest investments by any Irish company in the history of Enterprise Ireland, and its impact on the local and regional economy will be significant”.

Chanelle had sales of over €111 million in 2017, a figure it expects will rise to €130 million this year.

a