News | Published June 30 2019

Boots defends store closures

Boots will close 200 of its stores across the UK in an effort to cut costs as the high street continues to suffer.

The news comes after the retailer’s parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, announced that its quarterly sales in the UK were down compared to last year.

Managing Director Sebastian James has said that the move is “the right thing to do” in the current trading climate and pledged that “the overwhelming majority” of affected staff will continue their employment at other Boots stores within walking distance or a maximum of ten minutes driving distance.

The majority of units closed will be local pharmacy stores in close proximity to larger, general Boots stores.

Boots employs 56,000 staff in the UK and currently has 2,485 operating stores on the high street.

James said: “There is no doubt that trading conditions are tough on the high street and healthcare and retail are facing a challenging reality. Boots is not immune”.

James also conceded that the retailer would have to take “tough decisions” to sustain growth having recently launched its first new modern style store in Covent Garden, London, as part of its strategy going forward.

The Covent Garden unit plays host to a YouTube studio and Instagram zone and according to James will set the bar for the business going forward.

James sees making stores “more differentiated and personalised, with the best brands at the best value” as a solution to Boots’ woes, with the company having come under fire from analysts for its lack of investment in high street stores and its hesitancy to modernise.

Other critics of the retailer have taken aim at its high pricing, which they claim puts off consumers.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
June 30 2019

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