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Boots owner backtracks on 'low-performing' pharmacy review comments

Walgreens Boots Alliance: Boots' management comments were taken out of context
Walgreens Boots Alliance: Boots' management comments were taken out of context

Boots’ parent company has sought to downplay comments it made on Tuesday, saying there is no “major” review of low-performing pharmacies in the UK.

Walgreens Boots Alliance announced on Tuesday (April 2) that it was taking  “immediate action” to address financial results "much weaker than expected", which includes “decisive action” in the UK.

The company’s co-chief operating officer Alexander Gourlay said this includes a “store portfolio review”, which was also confirmed in a presentation accompanying the financial results (see below).

Expanding on the plans, Mr Gourlay said the review is “focusing on low-performing stores and opportunities for consolidation” and the company will also take a close look at the “pharmacy business to further improve efficiency and effectiveness”.

When asked by C+D for further detail on the plans for the UK, Walgreens Boots Alliance said: “We currently do not have a major programme envisaged, but as you'd expect we always review underperforming stores and seek out opportunities for consolidation.” 

It did not disclose how it is identifying low-performing pharmacies or what criteria it would use to decide to consolidate them.

The news of potential pharmacy closures was also picked up by the BBC and ITV among others, but Walgreens Boots Alliance claimed Mr Gourlay’s comments were taken out of context, and no pharmacy closures or job cuts were announced on Tuesday.

“There is no major review in place,” it stressed.

In February, Boots pharmacy director Richard Bradley told C+D that pharmacy closures and openings are “fairly regular” at the multiple, and the number of branches has remained “fairly consistent” at “around 2,500” over the last three years.

Have any pharmacies closed in your area recently?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Would it be possible for a FOI request to find out how many branches Boots has gained and sold in the previous five to ten years, and the average headcount of dispensary staff per branch and the average items dispensed monthly?

That'll be quite insightful as some investigative journalism.

Sharon Stone, Communications

Staffing was bad when the Americans took over from S. Pessina, it was cut to the bone. I can only assume all limbs have been amputated now. :-(

Boots Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I hope Boots read the comments on the BBC article about store closures....there are hundreds of comments and the stores get absolutely slated for being so drab, dated, underinvested in and yes...understaffed. Customers are noticing and as a customer myself, I really think we are the worst on the high street for staffing/service level.

Sharon Stone, Communications

Yes Boots is the worst but its not staff fault its Pessina . It went down hill from the minute he got his covetous hands on Boots. 

Thanks Boots Pharmacist. Yes it makes interesting reading. References to Timothy Whites and offshore tax base plus lots of comments in relation to pharmacy services. Well worth a read.

C A, Community pharmacist

Wasn't Timothy Whites taken over by Boots? Or at least the pharmaceutical side?

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Lock stock and barrel, in about 1967 I believe.

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

The "decisive action" seems a bit indecisive 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Damage control mode.

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