Boots confirms plans to close 200 stores

Boots has confirmed plans to shut down around 200 stores in the next 18 months, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

A statement from the health and beauty retailer explained that the closure scheme will primarily focus on local pharmacy branches in locations where it has other options nearby.

Boots has already promised to find new roles for affected staff where possible. It has almost 2,500 stores across the UK and employs 56,000.

The announcement is part of a strategy by Stefano Pessina, the chief executive of Boots’ US parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance, to cut £800 million worth of costs across the business within three years.

Managing director Seb James commented: “Walgreens Boots Alliance has now approved an outline plan to consolidate around 200, principally local pharmacy, stores where we have a large number within close proximity.

“We believe this is the right thing to do, as it means that we can invest more in staffing those stores while not reducing our 90 per cent coverage within a 10-minute drive of a Boots,” he continued, adding: “We do not anticipate a significant effect from this activity to colleagues as we will redeploy the overwhelming majority to neighbouring stores.”

James went on to point out that the company continues to open new stores – for example, the new Covent Garden flagship opened last week, creating 130 new jobs.

Boots has also placed 800 head office roles into consultation, aiming to reduce costs by 20 per cent. The UK head office currently employs 2,500.

Boots recently reported a 2.6 per cent fall in third quarter like-for-like retail sales, while gross profit decreased 8.5 per cent year-on-year.

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