PLANS to close a pharmaceutical company’s base have been formalised – with around 150 people set to lose their jobs and Brexit being named as the main cause of its closure.

Staff at Catalent on the Wingates Industrial Estate in Westhoughton were told that the clinical services site was set to be shut in 2021 and a consultation period on employee roles had started.

And the company has confirmed that period finished in December and the "proposal was accepted".

The company, which has its headquarters in America, said the "regrettable" move came amid concerns raised by their customers about trading with the UK after Brexit.

There will be a phased closure at the site in the next nine months.

Workers union Unite, which has 77 members affected, said that the closure will be "a body blow for the Bolton economy" and "desperately sad" for the employees and their families.

Unite regional officer Andrew Johnson said: “We understand that the pressures created by Brexit and the uncertainty felt by some customers at our exit from the single market were the deciding factors for Catalent executives.

“This is grim news for the Bolton economy, and very sad for our members and their families. As a country, we can ill afford to lose such pharma capacity if the UK economy is to prosper in the future.

“We understand that any existing work undertaken in Bolton will be transferred to the Catalent sites in the US, Germany and Bathgate in Scotland.

“Unite is working very hard with management to mitigate the job losses. Some of the company’s employees already work from home and they may be able to continue to do so.

“We are also aware that many local companies and those in the supply chain have expressed an interest in helping these highly skilled workers secure new employment – we are grateful for any additional support and will be actively exploring these avenues.”

Bolton West MP Chris Green said: “This is disappointing news for the workers and their families, however, given work is being transferred to Scotland and the US, both of which are outside the EU, it is a little surprising that Unite believes the decision is solely due to Brexit.”

Catalent's director for global communications and marketing, Chris Halling said: "On October 29, 2020, Catalent announced to affected employees that, following a thorough review of demand and considering the outlook for clinical supply services in the UK, it would commence a collective consultation with employee representatives on a proposal to close the Bolton site.

"That consultation was completed on December 14, and the proposal was accepted.

"The company is committed to mitigating the impact on all those affected, and has started to consult with individual employees to determine their date of exit, and provide outplacement support."