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.
US-based Walgreens Boots Alliance said it had started taking ‘decisive steps’ in the UK to cut costs, including reviewing its near-2,500 retail stores.
The group has said it is looking at poor performing shops as well as ‘opportunities for consolidation’.
Boots has approximately 43 sites in West Sussex and approximately 38 in East Sussex.
The news 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.
Following the news, Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) – the UK’s fifth biggest trade union – has called on Walgreens Boots Alliance to enter into talks.
Daniel Adams, Usdaw National Officer, said: “This is clearly very worrying news for the staff in all Boots stores and the union will be doing all it can to support members during this difficult time.
“We would urge the company to engage with Usdaw as the trade union for Boots staff to ensure that all avenues to minimise job losses are explored during this critical time.”
Walgreens Boots Alliance has reported a 2.3 per cent drop in like-for-like UK retail sales in its second quarter to February 28, while comparable pharmacy sales dropped 1.5 per cent.
Tough trading in the US also 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’.
Walgreens Boots Alliance was formed in 2014 after Walgreens bought the 55 per cent stake in UK and Switzerland-based Alliance Boots that it did not already own.
Big names that went out of business or closed stores last year include Maplins, Morthercare, House of Fraser, and Toys R Us.