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Community pharmacy

Boots pharmacists to be unaffected by company-wide proposals to cut 4,000 jobs

In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boots is restructuring and cutting around 7% of its workforce.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

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Around 4,000 jobs will be cut from Boots across the UK, although pharmacists will be “unaffected”, the company says

Boots has announced proposals to cut 4,000 jobs — around 7% — from its workforce as part of “a significant restructuring”, owing to the impact of COVID-19.

The proposals, announced on 9 July 2020, stated that the multiple did not expect the job cuts to impact pharmacists or pharmacy advisers.

Boots said in a statement that it was opening a consultation that could result in job losses in the Boots support office in Nottingham, as well as cuts to some deputy and assistant manager, beauty advisor and customer advisor store roles, and Boots Opticians.

The multiple also noted the possible closure of 48 of the company’s optician stores.

The statement added that, proportionally, the largest number of losses would come from the proposed support office reductions, with a financial statement from Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) — Boots’s parent company — adding that the support office would see a 20% headcount reduction.

The multiple said its retail sales had decreased 48% for Boots UK and 72% for Boots Opticians in the third quarter of the financial year — between March and May 2020 — compared with last year.

Factors influencing this included the closure of beauty and fragrance counters, as well as the temporary closing of 100 stores in city centre, station and airport locations during the COVID-19 lockdown, which began on 23 March 2020.

Boots’s accounts, published in May 2020, revealed the multiple’s profits fell by almost 50% in 2019, owing to “lower revenue and gross margin”.

Boots said the job cuts were part of “decisive action to mitigate the significant impact” of the pandemic, but added that as “further effects of the pandemic become known and macroeconomic conditions evolve, Boots will continue to review and progress its Transformation Plan”.

In January 2020, WBA said it was embarking on a ‘Transformational Cost Management Program’, which aims to achieve savings of at least US$18bn by the financial year 2022, and would be carrying out an “end-to-end process review” across Boots as part of this.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots, said that the proposals were “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”.

James added that the company recognises that the 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”.

On 6 July 2020, LloydsPharmacy told its staff that some roles would be at risk of redundancy, but a spokesperson for the multiple did not confirm whether these redundancies would include community pharmacy staff.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208161

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