US owner of Boots warns of store closures

The owner of retail chain Boots has warned over UK store closures as it looks to slash costs amid the “most difficult” quarter in the group’s history.

A Boots outlet in Galashiels. There have been warnings of fresh store closures

US-based Walgreens Boots Alliance said it had started taking “decisive steps” in the UK to cut costs, including reviewing its near-2,500 Boots retail stores.

The group revealed it is looking at poor performing shops as well “opportunities for consolidation”.

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It follows the group’s announcement in February that 350 jobs are at risk in its Nottingham head office amid plans to trim HQ staff costs by 20 per cent. It is also looking at ways to overhaul its pharmacy business.

Tough trading in the US saw the wider group warn over full-year earnings, with boss Stefano Pessina branding it the “most difficult quarter we have had since the formation of Walgreens Boots Alliance”.

Mr Pessina said: “Our response was not rapid enough given market conditions, resulting in a disappointing quarter that did not meet our expectations. We are going to be more aggressive in our response to these rapidly shifting trends.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance was formed in 2014 after Walgreens bought UK and Switzerland-based Alliance Boots.