Boots to axe 300 stores

Nottingham-based pharmacy giant Boots is set to close 300 stores in a bid to “evolve” its estate.

It is understood the 12-month plan, which will involve consolidating outlets located close to one another, will not involve redundancies. The company says affected staff will be offered roles at nearby stores.

The move will reduce Boots’ portfolio from around 2,200 to 1,900 shops.

It comes despite Boots posting a 13.4% uptick in quarterly sales driven by demand for its skincare products. Boots’ US owner Wallgreens Boots Alliance said its new skincare range had flown off the shelves at a rate of one product every two seconds on launch day, with over 500,000 transactions being completed in the first four weeks.

Seb James, managing director of Boots UK and ROI, said: “Our focus on offering our customers the best in healthcare and beauty, together with a continued commitment to great value, has been well received, and it is lovely to see more people choosing to shop with Boots.”

But while Boots has emerged from the pandemic “invigorated, relevant and relatable”, to quote Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, news of impending store closures will no doubt raise questions about its American owner’s commitment to the UK and Ireland.

Earlier this year, reports suggested Wallgreens Boots Alliance was mulling a sale of the business for the second time in 14 months.

A joint offer from private equity heavyweights Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners and a £5bn bid by Apollo Global Management and Reliance Industries came to nothing in January 2022 after both failed to meet Walgreens’ asking price of £7bn.

There have also been changes at the top of the firm in recent weeks. CFO Michael Snape handed his notice in last month after five years in the post, with Sam Hunter from Boots’ finance team taking his place.