Home / Retail / Boots to cut 4,000 jobs and John Lewis to close eight of its 50 stores amid Covid-19 fallout

Boots to cut 4,000 jobs and John Lewis to close eight of its 50 stores amid Covid-19 fallout

The UK retailer, Boots is to cut 4,000 jobs, its parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance has announced, having been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures. The company said it will cut around seven per cent of its UK workforce.

According to Walgreens, sales at Boots have plunged during the lockdown.

“The adverse impact of Covid-19 on sales in the quarter was approximately $700 million to $750 million, with the majority of the impact related to the Retail Pharmacy International division,” the company said in a statement released today. “This reflected a dramatic reduction in footfall in Boots UK stores – down 85 per cent in April, as consumers were advised to leave home only for food and medicine.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO, Stefano Pessina has said: “Prior to the pandemic our financial performance for fiscal 2020 was on track with our expectations. However, this unprecedented global crisis led to a loss in the quarter as stay-at-home orders affected all of our markets.

“Shopping patterns are evolving more rapidly than ever as consumers further embrace digital options, spurring us to accelerate our ongoing investments in digital transformation and neighbourhood health destinations.”

Boots’ announcement follows further bad news for retail as John Lewis detailed its own plans to close eight of its 50 stores this morning, including major outlets in Birmingham and Watford. The closure will result in the loss of around 1,300 jobs.

All four of the group’s smaller At Home stores, in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, are to close as well as two outlets in travel hubs at Heathrow and St Pancras station in London, reports The Guardian.

The Group has said that the eight shops were already ‘financially challenged’ before the outbreak of coronavirus, but that the pandemic had accelerated the move from in-store shopping to online. Figures state that before the virus hit, 40 per cent of John Lewis sales were online, but since the pandemic, this could now be closer to 60 to 70 per cent of total sales this year and next.

Sharon White, the chairman of the department store’s parent group – the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners. However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership, and continue to meet the needs of our customers and wherever they want to shop.

“Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business.

“There are many reasons to be optimistic about the Partnership’s future. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands and we have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic by responding to the new needs of customers. We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.”

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