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BIOTECHNOLOGY 2005, October 7
 
PAREXEL wagers on the human factor
 
 
A specialist in bioanalysis, the unsung Poitiers-based company has just invested 1.6 million euros in state-of-the-art instruments. As a result, in less than two years, PAREXEL Poitiers has doubled its business volume.

“To live happily, remain hidden”. For several years, the PAREXEL Poitiers managers made this maxim their own… until they piqued the curiosity of the neighboring economic movers and shakers. Then again, what exactly is hidden behind the doors of 144, rue de la Gibauderie? These days, the new management team overseen by Dominic Allen has chosen to “play transparency” and open itself up to “local life”. One consequence of this choice is to lift a corner of the veil covering the activities of the group of which the human-sized business in Poitiers is a part. After all, PAREXEL International is a leading global bio/pharmaceutical services organization,. “We carry out operations on 51 sites in 37 countries all over the world”, volunteers Sébastien Duval, the commercial manager of PAREXEL Poitiers.

In Poitiers, the group’s activities are centered on bioanalysis. Clinical trials have been transferred to other centers such as the one located in South Africa; this “strategic reorientation” was decided upon in at the uppermost echelon. “In Poitiers, we had 20 beds as opposed to 400 worldwide. We preferred to focus more closely on bioanalysis, explains Dominic Allen, who is in charge of this structure. Held in high regard thanks to the quality of its teams – English, German and French are spoken -, the center in Poitiers has bolstered itself appreciably since 2003. Eighteen staff have joined the team, so that PAREXEL Poitiers now totals 43 salaried employees.

Recruitment is by no means easy

That said, the principle investment has been in equipment and instruments; over 1.6 million euros have been spent for the purchase of the most efficient machines available, the best on the market. “We have boosted our production capacity by 75%. It’s simple, in less than two years, we have doubled the number of studies on the site”, indicates Catherine Bulcort, the production laboratory manager. What is more, PAREXEL has acquired a top of the range laboratory information management system. Is the best yet to come? It’s too early to say… Be that as it may, “the order books are growing exponentially” and sales are going up just as rapidly, adds Sébastien Duval.

Better still, PAREXEL Poitiers is maintaining its position, despite the “cut price” competition from “low cost” countries (India, China…) where the price for the same service can be three or four times less… What might be its secret weapon, if not the overall force of the group along with in-house know-how? “That is invaluable, it is priceless…”, insists Dominic Allen, who gives as an example an Indian company whose medicines are about to be analyzed by his laboratory. Anything goes! And yet, there is one particular challenge: PAREXEL is struggling to recruit qualified staff to fill specific positions. At this time, “there are seven vacancies”. “Hiring the right people is an ever-present challenge”, Dominic Allen readily admits.


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