PARIS (Reuters) – French drugmaker Sanofi <SASY.PA>, which employs more than 100,000 people worldwide, confirmed on Friday it will axe up to 1,680 jobs in Europe to cut costs and lift profits.
The lay-offs are part of a broader strategy outlined in December by Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson, which includes a cost savings target of 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) by 2022.
A Sanofi spokeswoman said the cuts, mainly affecting blue-collar workers, would be carried out over three years.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Sanofi was considering hundreds of job cuts and would hold talks with staff representatives on Friday and on June 29.
A source said some 1,000 jobs would go in France, where it has about 25,000 staff.
None of Sanofi’s plants will close, a source familiar with its thinking said, but activity at some research centres will cease after it decided last year to end diabetes and cardiovascular research, two areas where it has lost ground.
An internal document seen by Reuters said Sanofi will focus on greater efficiency through digitalisation and IT outsourcing.
A French Finance Ministry source told Reuters that the government will ensure that there are no sites closed and there are no forced lay-offs.
Sanofi has been bulking up in areas where it believes it can secure leading positions, including cancer drugs and last year said it would buy U.S. biotechnology firm Synthorx <THOR.O> for about $2.5 billion.
Vaccines are also a priority for Sanofi which is working on two candidates to prevent COVID-19, one with GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> and another with U.S. Translate Bio <TBIO.O>.
Sanofi said last week it would invest 610 million euros at two French sites to turn them into a hub dedicated to research, development and production of vaccines. Some 200 new jobs are expected to be created at one of the locations.
“Today’s news is hard to digest,” Thierry Bodin, an official with the CGT union said.
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Additional reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Josephine Mason and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Jan Harvey, Mark Potter and Alexander Smith)