Boots store closures: hundreds of shops and thousands of jobs at risk

Is your local store in danger?

Hundreds of Boots branches could be facing the chop (Photo: Shutterstock)
Hundreds of Boots branches could be facing the chop (Photo: Shutterstock)

Boots stores across the UK have been issued with potential closure as they are put under review.

The review will take place over the next 12 to 18 months.

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Is my local Boots at risk?

Sky News reports that the affected stores will be a mixture of sites at the end of their lease and stores that already have another Boots nearby.

If the predicted closures go ahead, it will be the equivalent of losing just under 10 per cent of the brand’s outlets in the UK.

According to Sky, sources close to the company state that final decisions are yet to be made about the stores under review, but a “significant number” were likely to be closed.

Last month the Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) said the review was focusing on “low-performing stores and opportunities for consolidation”.

Will staff lose their jobs?

Where possible, staff at a Boots branch earmarked for closure would be redistributed to other stores in the area.

According to Boots, they employ around 56,000 members of staff and are “the largest pharmacy health and beauty chain in the UK” with over two thousand branches across the country.

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If all the stores under review were to close, it would be one of the largest closures of branches of a brand to date.

Too late to halt the decline?

These potential closures have been branded as “inevitable” by Patrick O’Brien, the UK Retail Research Director at GlobalData.

“It has taken Boots a long time to address the midmarket squeeze that has wrought so much damage to major multichannel retailers in other sectors such as food, fashion and department stores,” said O’Brien.

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“Shoppers have been trading down to discounters, and trading up to higher end retailers for more expensive treats and gifts.”

Where other retailers have been in similar circumstances, O’Brien says that Boots might not have done enough to address the issue.

“Like Tesco and M&S it has actually been in this predicament for years, but unlike them, it has done little to address the issue until very recently, and now we have to wonder if Boots has left it too late to halt its market share decline,” he commented.

High street closures

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This isn’t the first big name high street brand to be plagued by closures.

In 2018, struggling retailers of Britain’s high street let go nearly 150,000 staff, and the number of empty shops lining the streets grew to more than 7,500 last year.

Big names like Debenhams, House of Fraser and New Look have all been hit by closures.

Research by PwC of data gathered by the Local Data Company (LDC) states, “A record net 2,481 stores disappeared from Great Britain’s top 500 high streets in 2018.”