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Boots to cut 4,000 jobs and close stores after dramatic fall in shopper numbers


Chain to shut optician branches and cut roles at head office and in stores with 7% of workforce to be laid off

Boots claims a dramatic decline in footfall and the shuttering of its money-generating beauty counters due to the coronavirus has forced the restructuring.
Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Boots is to cut 4,000 jobs – 7% of its workforce – as it closes 48 opticians outlets and cuts roles at its head office and stores.

The company said it was accelerating a restructuring plan after sales at its main Boots stores dived 72% and sales at Boots Opticians dived 48% during the high street lockdown. As an essential retailer, Boots was allowed to continue to trade, but the company said that more than 100 larger stores in city centres, stations and airports closed during the lockdown amid the shift to working from home.

The number of visitors to its other outlets also “dramatically reduced” as other nearby stores remained closed and its profitable beauty and fragrance counters stayed shut.

Boots said online sales had soared 78% during the lockdown and it would be investing more into online and digital services in future.

Sebastian James, the managing director of Boots UK, 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. In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“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.”
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