Merck KGaA launches largest single investment in manufacturing

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

Merck membrane manufacturing facility in Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland © Merck KGaA
Merck membrane manufacturing facility in Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland © Merck KGaA

Related tags Merck kgaa COVID-19 Filtration lateral flow membrane Ireland

As part of a wider expansion project, Merck commits to expanding an existing facility and building an entirely new one, as part of its strategy to focus on investment in Ireland.

Merck KGaA will invest more than €440m (US$421m) to expand its membrane and filtration manufacturing capabilities at its site in Cork, Ireland. The investment will comprise of boosting membrane manufacturing at an existing facility in Carrigtwohill and the construction of an entirely new manufacturing facility.

According to the company, the investment breaks down to a €290m expansion at the Carrigtwohill facility, which is used for the immersion casting of membranes. The membranes produced at the site will support the development of novel and gene therapies, as well as being used for virus sterilization.

The remaining €150m will be spent on constructing a filtration manufacturing facility. The two expansions taken together will create more than 370 roles by the end of 2027.

Matthias Heinzel, CEO of Merck’s Life Science business, noted that the expansion made in Cork is the biggest single location investment in the history of the division, adding that “Ireland is central to our strategy to drive long-term growth.”

Last year, the company expanded its Carrigtwohill facility with a €36m investment to meet demand for lateral flow membrane, which had soared from the impact of COVID-19. The funds were put towards a second lateral flow membrane manufacturing product line, creating 50 jobs and doubling the capacity for the product.

Fueling growth

Merck’s investments are part of an overall strategy to expand its business and group sales, with a stated aim of increasing sales to €25bn by 2025. In order to do so, the company has stated that it plans to increase capital expenditure “significantly compared with the period from 2016 to 2020.”

The company states this will involve investments in the ‘target countries’ of Germany, China, France, Switzerland, Ireland and the US.

On the latter country, Merck recently completed​ work on a second Carlsbad, California, facility, which was built through a $110m outlay. The site doubled production capacity for viral vectors, with the location outfitted with Merck’s own Mobius 1,000L single-use equipment.

Post-COVID-19 targets

The company was one of the businesses to emerge stronger from the pandemic, as this time last year​ Merck experienced high demand for its services. Its process solutions divisions saw order intake rise more than 60% during the height of the pandemic.

This trend continued in its most recently reported Q1 2022 financials, with the business seeing net sales grow by 18.8% compared to 2021.

Overall, the company projects net sales for the group to reach between €21.6bn and €22.8bn in full year 2022 results – making its aim of €25bn net sales not far from reach.

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