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Boots resumes closures paused by COVID-19, with 138 of 200 completed

Boots has completed 138 of its 200 planned branch closures, after temporarily pausing them at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multiple told C+D last week (October 23).

Boots announced that it had completed 138 of its planned 200 branch closures earlier this month (October 16), as its parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance announced its latest financial results.

A spokesperson for Boots UK told C+D that the closure programme had been  “temporarily paused” earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic This comes after the multiple said in October last year that it was “on track” to close 182 of the 200 branches earmerked for closure that were still open before September 2020. However, in January this year, the company shared that it had so far closed just 28 of the 200.

“Boots pharmacies have been providing a vital service to local communities throughout the pandemic”, the spokesperson told C+D, explaining that this prompted the multiple's decision to pause the programme of closures earlier in the year.

“We can confirm that this programme has now restarted so we can prioritise making sure that our stores are where our customers need us most,” they added.

Further closures before the end of the year

Boots expects to close or sell a further 48 pharmacy branches before the end of the year. The location of the closures has not been confirmed.

The plan to close 200 loss-making Boots branches was first announced by its parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance in June last year, in response to “difficult market conditions in the UK”.

The multiple has stressed that most of the  branches that have closed or are due to close are within walking distance of another Boots branch.

Earlier this month, Walgreens Boots Alliance revealed a 26% year-on-year drop in adjusted gross profits for its international retail pharmacy division – which includes Boots UK – for the June-August period. The company said this figure reflected “lower UK retail sales, higher fulfilment costs, marketing investments to drive customer traffic and lower fixed supplier contributions”.

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