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Community pharmacy

Union for Boots pharmacists pledges support for members affected by closures

Boots has reassured that the “overwhelming majority” of staff members affected by pharmacy store closures will be redeployed.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK

Source: Courtesy of Sebastian James

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots, said the firm plans to redeploy “the vast majority” of staff members affected by the store closures to neighbouring stores

The union that now represents Boots pharmacists has pledged to support its members who have been affected by the announced closures of 200 Boots stores in the UK by 2021.

The closures were announced by the multiple’s US-based parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) on 27 June 2019.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) won a vote to represent Boots pharmacists in March 2019. Paul Day, national officer at the PDA Union, told The Pharmaceutical Journal, on 28 June 2019, that members who are employed by Boots and would be affected by the closures would be advised of their “options and rights”.

Announcing the closures in a call to investors on 27 June 2019, Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer for WBA, said the company planned to redeploy affected staff to nearby stores.

Day said he had no knowledge of which stores would be affected by the closures, but said he was concerned that Boots staff had been “put on a rollercoaster” after a Boots spokesperson was reported to have said in May 2019 that it did not “have a major store closure programme envisaged”.

He added that the PDA Union would be making sure that “appropriate redundancy measures” are in place for affected members of staff.

“And if they are losing their job but are offered another at Boots, we’ll want to know if that job and location is suitable,” he said. “No one gets forced into a job that’s not appropriate for that person. It’s all about making sure people are properly informed and properly treated.”

In a statement issued on 29 June 2019, Sebastian James, managing director of Boots, said that WBA had approved an “outline plan to consolidate around 200, principally local, pharmacy stores where we have a large number within close proximity”.

“We believe this is the right thing to do as it means that we can invest more in staffing those stores while not reducing our 90% coverage within a ten-minute drive of a Boots,” he added.

“We do not anticipate a significant effect from this activity to colleagues as we will redeploy the overwhelming majority to neighbouring stores,” he added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206741

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