GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the UK's largest pharmaceutical today marks its 300th birthday. Beginning life as a small pharmacy in east London in 1715, it is now the sixth largest pharmaceutical company in the world.
On 9 November 1715, Silvanus Bevan from Swansea established the Plough Court pharmacy in London, the family company that grew into Allen and Hanburys which, in turn, become part of GlaxoWellcome. GlaxoWellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham on 1 January 2001 to become GlaxoSmithKline.
From Bevan and a couple of assistants in the back of the apothecary shop, GSK has grown to employ 100,000 people worldwide, some 15,000 of them working in the UK across six research and development centres, nine manufacturing sites and five offices – including GSK's global headquarters in London.
Nikki Yates, the general manager of GSK UK Pharma, said the company's prosperity over four centuries was a remarkable achievement. "I'm extremely proud of all the history we have behind us and the foundation that these generations of people have given us to continue our mission to help more people do more, feel better and live longer. It is a quite remarkable achievement to be able to trace our roots back to one young entrepreneur in 1715."
Listed on the London Stock Exchange (LON:GSK), as of 6 May, the company had a market capitalisation of £73bn (€102.6bn, $110.1bn). GlaxoSmithKline's profits suffered a dramatic fall in 2014 as the company was hit by a large fine over a bribery scandal at its Chinese operation. Net profits almost halved to £2.8bn, compared to £5.4bn in the previous year, according to the company's results.