By JOHN REID BLACKWELL
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Pharmaceuticals maker Wyeth said yesterday that it will consolidate its East Coast distribution centers next year, costing 61 jobs at the company's distribution site in Henrico County.
The Madison, N.J.-based company plans to move its consumer health-care products distribution from the local site at 2300 Darbytown Road to a larger plant in Knoxville, Tenn., that also serves the East Coast.
About 70 employees will continue to work at the local site, a 286,000-squarefoot building, in support functions such as quality assurance and a call center, Wyeth spokesman Rob Norman said. "This just impacts the logistical services group at the facility," he said. "Wyeth does not intend to sell the facility," Norman said. "However, the company is in the process of determining the best use of the space that will become available."
The logistical operations will be phased out starting in January and close by May, he said. The company said it would provide severance, extended benefits and outplacement help to affected employees.
Norman said the change will not affect Wyeth's other local operations, including its manufacturing plant at 2248 Darbytown Road that makes consumer health products such as ChapStick, Robitussin and Preparation H. The company has about 1,200 employees in the Richmond area.
Moving the local operations to Knoxville will improve the efficiency of Wyeth's U.S. distribution network, the company said.
The Henrico site distributes consumer health products in 14 Eastern states, including Virginia, and its volume accounts for about 30 percent of the company's annual sales.
The Knoxville center, which also distributes other pharmaceutical products, is 600,000 square feet and has the capacity to serve all of the company's East Coast customers, the company said. Wyeth has a West Coast distribution center in Sparks, Nev.
In July, Wyeth said it would close its administrative office at 1407 Cummings Drive, just off Interstate 95 in Richmond, and move those offices to its nearby product-development center at 1211 Sherwood Ave. by early next year.
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