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Alliance Boots: Walgreens takeover does not threaten jobs

Alliance Boots says that the American buyout means Boots staff will benefit from a stronger organisation

The company tells its staff that their jobs are safe and buyout will create a stronger organisation. Its headquarters in Nottingham will continue to be an "important hub within the global enterprise".

Alliance Boots has reassured staff that their jobs are secure in the face of the company's buyout by US pharmacy giant Walgreens.

Walgreen's announcement last week that it would increase its shares in the multinational company from 45 per cent to 100 per cent in the first quarter of next year was "good news" for Boots teams across the UK, an Alliance Boots spokesperson said yesterday (August 11), because they would benefit from being part of a "stronger and much larger" organisation.

The company's headquarters in Nottingham – where it has been based for more than 160 years – was "at the heart" of Boots' heritage and would continue to be an "important hub within the global enterprise", the spokesperson said.

Boots would play a "pivotal role" as the "principal retail brand" of the new company, which will trade under the name Walgreens Boots Alliance, he said.

The "complimentary geographic footprints" of both companies meant that neither was planning to cut jobs, the spokesperson added.

Alliance Boots employs around 6,500 pharmacists in the UK and 250 across its international businesses, according to its annual report for 2013-14.

Walgreens Boots Alliance will own more than 11,000 stores across 10 countries and will have the world's largest pharmaceutical distribution network. The buyout marks the final stage of the deal announced in 2012, which set out to make the combination of the two companies "the global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail".

Under the new structure, Boots will be a division of the company in its own right and its headquarters will remain in Nottingham, while the global company's headquarters will be in Chicago.

How do you think Walgreens' takeover of Boots will affect UK pharmacy?

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Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Takeover does not threaten jobs. Terms and conditions on the other hand are fair game. Pessini has form on this. Boots employees, look forward to the next use of TUPE.

sandra butler, Accuracy checking technician

unbelievable...the boots name now means nothing on the high st. i started work for them when i was 16 and they were an amazing company back then. when i left in 1999 they were a shadow of their former self wth the rot setting in

Phantom Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The company's HQ in Nottingham is at the heart of the business?

That's not what they have been telling HMRC since 2008, the business upped sticks and moved (on paper) to Zug in Switzerland to avoid £100Million in UK taxation a year.

Strangely, the 25,000 inhabitants of the small town don't have the pleasure of popping into their local Boots store because there isn't one! The canton of Zug boasts more international companies registered than citizens, and who could blame them with a top line corporation tax of 15%. I am no doubt sure that the Swiss are quite happy to take 15% of profits from a multinational, who hasn't sold a single thing within it's boundaries.

Mind you, there must be a lot of work that goes on in Boots' massive HQ office in Switzerland based on their turnover and profit there. It must surely dwarf Boots office in Nottingham which has it's own postcode! Alas, Boots HQ in Zug in Switzerland is little more than a brass plaque on the wall of a post office. From postcode to post office!.

Boots however will have you believe that their move to Switzerland was NOT for tax avoidance purposes, it was "to enhance the position of Alliance Boots as a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group alongside a number of the world's leading pharmaceutical manufacturers.". I love the "alongside" phrase, for the only thing they are alongside in Switzerland is another 30,000 companies avoiding corporation tax in their own country.

I had the misfortune of believing that Alliance Boots would pay me in a timely and professional manner for 2 locum dates that I contracted with them. 9 months later, and still no payment forthcoming, I had to raise a small claims summons to force payment. I had this delivered by courier to their "HQ" in Switzerland, and was surprised that a reply was very slow in coming.

Please bear in mind, that £100Million a year is £100Million that the NHS won't see, that's 4,000 nurses a year, and the total NHS budget for statins!

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

good ridance

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

"Under the new structure, Boots will be a division of the company in its own right and its headquarters will remain in Nottingham, while the global company's headquarters will be in Chicago."

I wonder if their registered office will remain in Switzerland?

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""Mr Wasson said the company was "working hard" to meet its goal of making $1bn (£600m) in cost savings by 2017 – focusing on "store costs, field costs, distribution costs and corporate costs". """

I was reading another topic and found this interesting and in a way relevant to this topic.
1. store costs -- Get rid of Pharmacist or Floor manager ?
2. field costs -- Get rid of Area Managers or Regional Managers?
3. distribution costs -- Stop Free Patient Deliveries or Make other delivery drivers redundant?
4. corporate costs -- Let the big fat heads roll or get the BIG Mr. P out?

I can't think of any other ways of reducing such big amount in just 3 years!!
Well any addition or deletion to the list will be interesting :-))

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I agree with a lot of comments on here that boots pharmacists are brainwashed. They get so defensive about their employer. They think boots is the beginning and the end. They dont realise how much they are tied down in chains

Sally Wiles, Community pharmacist

I have worked for boots for 7 years and l am certainly not brainwashed. I hate working for the company but it pays the bills. I don't know anyone who is happy working for them, stores keep going on the goodwill of their staff alone to benefit the patient

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Well only time will tell? Watch and wait !

Middle Way, Community pharmacist

Joke. Bill Gates said in 20 years time robots will be doing everything. The robot dispensers mark the first step in saving billions of pounds going forward. The didnt even buy the whole company before announcing that one. The aggressive cost cutting qill accelerate rapidly now.

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

ha ha ha ha ha ! of course they're not..

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

"Alliance Boots has reassured staff that their jobs are secure in the face of the company's buyout by US pharmacy giant Walgreens." -

Yeah right! This is priceless!!!! This reminds me of when Kraft promised the UK government that they would leave the Cadburys infrastructure and jobs in place. First chance, after clearance, they did exactly the opposite.

The sad thing is many pharmacists who work for Boots are brainwashed into thinking Boots is the messiah of all things good and wonderful. Poor pay and poor work conditions, and plenty of Boots propaganda thrown into the mix.

Pessina and his chums KKR, have stripped so hard there isn't anything else to strip. Boots used to be a great stalwart of modern British retailing, now it is just a whore to capitalists who want to squeeze out every penny.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Those words are written in sand not stone

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

"a whore to capitalists who want to squeeze out every penny" - isn't that the definition of capitalism? Why wouldn't you as an investor want to maximise your return?

I think the "safety" being promoted is because there has already been significant loss of people across Alliance Boots, so I suspect there may not be too much "fat" left to trim

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

Why wouldn't you as an investor want to maximise your return?

Depends really if you are an ethical investor or a rotten asset stripping, money hungry, grab and take so and so.....

My view is you need to have social corporate responsibility. Private Equity do not exhibit this trait, at all. They want bottom line optimisation so they can exit at a good multiple. They are not long term investors, hence they don't give a damn about the profession or staff or anything social. Nasty people - from a social point of view.

The scary thing here, is that Pessina and KKR, have already optimized the company to the point it is running under extreme pressure. You tell me where they will make another $1 billion of savings. Simple answer is that its already been done, there is no fat left.

Personally, this is a bad acquisition for Walmart. They should have done this when Boots were a public company with fat bursting through the seams. Value was ripe and to be had at that time. Today, Boots is probably running at optimal operational efficiency and any further cost cutting could seriously affect employees.

I hope this is not the case, but transatlantic corporate acquisition history has shown it usually ends in tears.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Apt words, Rajive. I can recall when I worked for Boots I would do shifts in a certain peninsula in West of Scotland. There were two Boots within a stone's throw of each other, both working under extreme pressure. The backlog and constant staff absence was unbelievable. Yet, at no point did the regulatory body (RPSGB at the time) investigate this. They were allowed to go on operating in this manner, on some days the pharmacist manning the premises with no support staff 9-5. I wish her well and hope she has wisely moved onto something less hazardous to her professional life and health.

Why are area managers not being brought to account for this?

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Anyone hear a whirring noise? Jesse Boot spinning in his grave.

Morven - Jayne .s. Kirk,

I recognise the description only too well M Yang.

Morven - Jayne .s. Kirk,

I recognise the description only too well M Yang.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Those pharmacists working for Boots are either:

1) brainwashed and swallow down the propaganda like it's the best thing ever
2) do it to pay the mortgage
3) about to leave very soon

I'm still slightly baffled how some pharmacists can sit in their leadership roles as an area manager or a development manager and dish out completely nonsensical and unfair performance reviews/disciplinaries to their peers in the profession. What happened to treating others fairly and with respect? How do we go about putting them through FtP proceedings?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I would expect those pharmacists in leadership roles ARE fair in the way the handle wayward pharmacists. After all, if a pharmacist steals, don't you think it warrants a FtP referral? Unfairness is more likely to come from non-pharmacist AMs due to a lack of understanding of the issues faced by front-line pharmacists. Alternatively, it could simply be that what is seen from outside as "unfairness" is simply disciplining people for not doing the job they have been asked (and are paid) to do. It all depends on your point of view

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Very much agree with Rajive’s post.

How does this comment from Walgreens Boots Alliance square with a statement from the same Company a few days ago that they would make $1Billion cuts from "corporate, field and store-level" over the next 3 years?

[email protected], Community pharmacist

Cuts from store-level but not job related. So I guess no heating or air conditioning. Probably turn the lights way down. Pen ink is cheaper than printer cartridges so I guess they may be hand writing labels from now on.

Either that or free services, deliveries, dosettes, BP etc will now be chargeable.

I'm hoping for the former. I really, really want to hear about prescriptions being done by candlelight.

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