Redundant Kent Pfizer staff 'finding jobs'
About two-thirds of the workers who left the Kent Pfizer site after being made redundant last year have found other jobs, it has emerged.
Dr Annette Doherty, site leader for Pfizer Sandwich, said some had remained in the biomedical sector while others had left Kent and moved to other roles.
She was speaking a year after the drugs giant announced it was closing its Kent base, which employed 2,400 people.
Pfizer later said it would keep 650 jobs in Kent and 250 at other UK sites.
About 1,500 were left facing redundancy and 800 left last year.
The company could not provide figures for how many workers remained in the biomedical sector or how many had stayed in Kent.
Pfizer said it had tried to monitor the impact of the closure announcement on colleagues and based on the voluntary responses of more than 1,000 people leaving the company had estimated that about two-thirds had left for new opportunities.
End Quote Laura Sandys MP
What seemed like a disastrous day a year ago looks a lot more promising”
Last week, it also emerged that Pfizer was in detailed talks with a consortium led by London and Metropolitan about buying the site, which is now known as Discovery Park.
Dr Doherty said that if the sale went ahead, London and Metropolitan would become the site owner and would rent space to other companies.
Pfizer would remain, running a smaller operation in rented buildings, and three other science and technology companies were also moving in, she added.
Dr Doherty said the site had a research and development "core" and many of the facilities on site were specialised laboratories, but there was also office space and "a multitude of different types of businesses" were likely to locate there.
She said: "There are many multi-use campuses which have a mix of science and technology companies and other types of businesses.
"All it takes is to set up the security systems as you enter into different buildings so it's not unusual at all to have multi-use campuses that have a range of businesses and that is the hope for Discovery Park in the future."
Laura Sandys, Conservative MP for South Thanet and Sandwich, said: "It was a really dark day for my constituents a year ago when Pfizer announced their exit."
She said: "One year on, we have secured from government Enterprise Zone status, £40m Regional Growth Funds, high speed rail services, flood defence funding and immediate start-up grants for new businesses."
She added: "While there are still staff who have not found jobs and companies in the area who were reliant on Pfizer, almost 1,000 jobs are now secure and a new buyer for the site is in final negotiations.
"What seemed like a disastrous day a year ago looks a lot more promising."