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UK pharmacy Boots says to cut over 4,000 jobs

UK pharmacy giant Boots on Thursday said it will cut more than 4,000 jobs after the country’s coronavirus lockdown slashed sales, especially affecting its opticians.

US-owned Boots said it planned “significant restructuring across its head office, store teams and opticians… resulting in a reduction of its headcount of more than 4,000 and the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores”.
Boots UK managing director Sebastian James said cutting the workforce by seven percent would allow the pharmacy “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,” he added.

Boots meanwhile said that COVID-19 had “accelerated the shift by consumers towards digital channels and online shopping”.

Parent group Walgreens Boots Alliance said in a separate statement that the sales impact from COVID-19 was as much as $750 million in its third quarter, or three months to the end of May.

“This reflected a dramatic reduction in footfall in Boots UK stores — down 85 percent in April — as consumers were advised to leave home only for food and medicine,” the statement said.

“While most Boots stores remained open throughout the UK lockdown to provide communities with pharmacy and essential healthcare, our largest premium beauty and fragrance counters were effectively closed” along with almost all 600 opticians, it added.