In an attempt to prevent employees from bribing their way to higher sales figures, Glaxo announced major changes to its sales and marketing practices. Specifically, employees were no longer awarded for hitting or surpassing sales targets.
At the time, Glaxos management hailed this change in strategy, boasting that the company was the first in the pharma industry to change its practices. But now, more than a year on, there are signs that this change has done irreversible damage to Glaxos sales and future outlook.
Even though Glaxo decided to changethe way it pays staff, almost all of the companys peers have continued to pay staff using a commission model. And when the companys revealed this year that US sales were sliding, it didnt take City analysts long to put two and two together.
Indeed,some analysts now believe that Glaxos US sales staff have lost all of their motivation to sell, as performance is not rewarded, the right incentives are no longer offered. Meanwhile, sales teams working for competitors are still highly motivated.
So all in all, Glaxo is losing market share to more aggressive competitors.
As sales have started to slide, Glaxos management has decided to cut costs, in an attempt to maintain profitability and widen margins. Alongside third quarter results, the group announced a 1bn cost-cutting programme that was to take place over the next three years.
A cost cutting plan is a strange move for a company that only recently:
[launched] more new medicines than any other company in the industry in the past 18 months
Unfortunately, the bulk of these cost savings will be achieved by slashing the research and development budget. Management has already decided to axe 900 jobs in North Carolina US, around 5% of the companys total US workforce.Chemists, engineers, biologists, statisticians and clinical development scientists are the main types of jobs to be eliminated.
Glaxo claims that these job cuts are strategic, in an attempt to reshape the size of the companys R&D operations, to be more agile to flex with shifting market demands.
Hefty job cuts, a 1bn restructuring plan and deteriorating sales are concerning. Whats more, it remains to be seen how this round of R&D job cuts will affect Glaxos long-term outlook, and ability to compete effectively with rivals.
The bottom line
Overall, Glaxo tried to change for the better but it seems as if this change has backfired.
Still, for the time being, Glaxo remains an attractive investment but this could change as sales continue to slide. With this in mind, it could payoff to keep an eye on the company and sell if things look like theyre getting worse.
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