Boots and John Lewis to close stores putting 5,300 jobs at risk

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Pharmacy chain Boots has said it expects to cut more than 4,000 roles as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19.

The move will affect around seven per cent of the company’s workforce and result in the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores.

It comes after sales plummeted by 48 per cent over the past three months in the face of the pandemic, despite Boots keeping swathes of its stores open to customers.

Its opticians business also saw sales dive by 72 per cent compared to the same quarter last year as people stayed at home.

Boots said the cuts represent an “acceleration” of its transformation plans to improve profitably across the business, as it significantly invests in its online store.

Meanwhile, homeware giant John Lewis is set to permanently shut eight stores across the country, putting 1,300 workers at risk.

It said department stores in Birmingham and Watford will be affected, along with four At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, and travel sites in Heathrow and St Pancras.

The eight outlets were already said to be “financially challenged” before the public health crisis but the firm said the pandemic pushed customers towards shopping online faster.

A retail expert told talkRADIO that coronavirus lockdown was not the only factor to blame, adding that online competition and savvier consumers were a problem for brands before.

Speaking with Ian Collins, Kate Hardcastle said: “Too many of those brands have been too slow on the uptake to evolve.”

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