Eighty jobs will be lost at AstraZeneca's Hurdsfield site as part of a shake-up at the firm.

The pharmaceutical company has confirmed to the Express that the 400 staff working in its IT hub will be cut to 320 by the end of next year.

The cuts are happening as part of a reorganisation of the firm’s IT operations globally.

The employees are part of the a workforce of more than 3,000 people, making it Macclesfield’s largest employer.

The plant which opened in 1966 and makes and distributes medicines is AstraZeneca’s second largest site in Europe.

A spokesman for the firm said AstraZeneca is committed to keeping an IT hub in Macclesfield.

He said: “We confirm that as part of the re-organisation of the global IT function there will be a rationalisation of IT services in a number of our locations.

“Regrettably this does impact on roles and jobs, with the large majority of personnel rationalisation borne by a reduction of contractor and 3rd party sub-contractor personnel.

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“However, there will also be a reduction of full-time AstraZeneca employees in the IT function. We are engaging with all employees who may be impacted and naturally those conversations are confidential. It is anticipated this headcount reduction be completed by the end of 2017.

“AstraZeneca is committed to treating its employees fairly and acting in accordance with all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements.

“AstraZeneca is fully committed to Macclesfield as a hub site for IT employees and the development of its Apprentice and Graduate programme is testament to this.”

Recent investment has included a £120 million upgrade to medicines production, £60 million on a new warehouse and packing hall due in 2017 and £20 million on new offices.

The news comes a week after the firm held a special lunch with local dignitories, as featured in the Express, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hurdsfield plant.

A reader who called the Express concerned about the job cuts but wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Everyone in the department is very worried.

“It’s a big cut to the department.

“It was bad timing for the staff to hear about the job cuts when the company was saying how everything is wonderful on its 50th anniversary.”