NAME: Custom Pharmaceuticals Ltd

BUSINESS NATURE: Pharmaceutical Contract Manufacturer


LOCATION: Conway Street, Hove and Eastergate Road, Moulsecoomb, Brighton


ANNUAL TURNOVER: £12 million

Stories of British companies shifting their operations to cheaper parts of the developing world are depressingly common.

But bosses at Custom Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a manufacturing chemist and packaging company with sites in Hove and Moulsecoomb, Brighton, has closed its factory in China.

Chief executive Nigel Richardson candidly admits that if it had been a success then eventually all its operations would have gone to the Far East.

But in the end the language and cultural differences, as well as the expense of dealing with the other side of the world, was too much.

Despite a £3 million loss, Mr Richardson shut the factory.

He said: “We are delighted with the prospect of growing our business here in the UK.

“I think the calibre of worker here is better than China because people can be more flexible and understand the commercial needs of business generally.”

CP has been a real success story since it was founded in 1979 by Mr Richardson’s father Tony, who ran Custom Packaging in Horsham.

He wanted to add a manufacturing arm to his packaging business and was aided by the relocation of Arthur H Cox, a manufacturing chemist based in Brighton for 140 years.

This well-known brand used to employ 300 people at its site, now the Sainsbury’s off Lewes Road, which was affectionately known as the Cox Pill Factory.

Mr Richardson said: “My father knew very little about the industry at the time but he was helped by the chairman of Arthur Cox, who passed on some customers as well as some of its employees.”

Tony Richardson ran the company until his retirement in 1991 when it was sold to two Sudanese businessmen.

His son joined the family firmafter a few years working in London as a chartered surveyor.

He was chief executive in 2002 when he and four directors took over the company in an MBO worth about £2.25 million.

Mr Richardson said: “I knew the business very well so I didn’t think it was a huge jump. It was a big commitment in terms of investing money.”

The risk paid off and the business has doubled from a turnover of £5.5 million to £12 million, while staff members have risen from 80 to more than 150.

Mr Richardson is currently trying to cope with “unprecedented demand” and hopes to be turning over £16 million by this time next year.

He is recruiting new staff and eventually hopes to expand the workforce to 200.

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