Boots insists 200 store closures right thing to do
Boots has confirmed it will close 200 stores with the chain’s boss saying it’s “the right thing to do” in the current tough trading conditions. Local pharmacy stores – where there is another store near by – will be most affected by the closures, Boots said.
The retailer said there would be little impact on staff, with “the overwhelming majority” redeployed to nearby shops. It is now deciding which shops will close, but said most people would still be within a 10-minute drive of a Boots.
The chain currently has 2,485 stores across the UK, employing about 56,000 staff. The retailer said last month it was considering store closures in an attempt to cut costs.
Most of the stores that are due to be closed are understood to be loss-making, with around two-thirds within walking distance of other Boots stores.
“There’s no doubt that trading conditions are tough on the High Street and healthcare and retail are facing a challenging reality. Boots is not immune to these pressures,” said Boots managing director Sebastian James.
He said the chain – which has its headquarters in Nottingham – had to take “some tough decisions” to transform the business and ensure future growth.
The news comes the day after the chain opened the first of a new-style store aimed at drawing in more shoppers.
The shop in Covent Garden, central London, features a YouTube studio offering video makeovers and an Instagram-zone where people can take pictures of their purchases.
Parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance said on Thursday that quarterly sales at its UK stores had fallen slightly compared with the previous year.
Analysts argue the chain has been slow to modernise, with a lack of investment in stores and high prices putting off shoppers.
But Mr James – who was parachuted in last year to turn the company’s fortunes around – said the retailer’s focus was now on making stores “more differentiated and personalised, with the best brands at the best value”.
He said the Covent Garden store would set the new standards for its transformation plan.