Boots is cutting 4,000 jobs and plans to close some UK branches

The cuts are part of Boots’ new “transformation plan”, which aims to ensure the business continues to remain profitable. (Credit: Shutterstock)

High street pharmacy chain Boots has announced plans to close some UK branches and cut over 4,000 jobs, after financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

The large cut in jobs will amount to roughly to seven per cent of its entire workforce.

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The health and beauty retailer has also announced the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores across the UK.

Financial difficulties

In the last three months, the retailer’s Opticians stores have faced a dramatic 72 per cent decrease in sales, compared to the same quarter last year.

The restructuring is set to particularly impact Nottingham support office staff, alongside some deputy and assistant store managers, beauty advisers and customer advisers.

Meanwhile, overall retail sales fell by 48 per cent in the past three months due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, even after a number of Boots stores remained open to customers.

‘Transformation plan’

The cuts are part of Boots’ new “transformation plan”, which aims to ensure the business continues to remain profitable.

Explaining the cuts, the managing director of Boots UK, Sebastian James, said, “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months. They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.

“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

Other store closures

Boots is the most recent retailer to announce job losses and store closures, but other businesses have also struggled financially due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pharmacy chain joins the likes of high street department store John Lewis, which recently announced the permanent closure of eight of its stores, leading to thousands of redundancies. John Lewis explained the cuts will help "secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers' shopping needs".

Meanwhile Burger King UK’s chief executive Alasdair Murdoch has revealed that as many as 53 stores could close and up to 1,600 jobs could be cut as a result of the financial strain caused by the coronavirus crisis.