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‘Why Boots’ new strategy could be an opportunity for independents’

“The elderly don’t care about apps and fast lanes; they want familiar faces”

Boots' plans to close up to 200 branches while transforming its other pharmacies could lead some patients to migrate to independents, predicts The Contractor

When Boots announced it is planning to close around 200 branches, I was initially surprised that even the UK’s largest multiple couldn’t hack the cuts. Any big business will start mergers and closures to retain its margins, but as its parent company owns its own wholesaler, I felt it would be almost immune. I suppose it thought the same, as I don’t remember hearing concerns from Boots when the cuts were staring the rest of us in the face.

I hate to say it, but I was a little happy to hear that 8% of its stores were going. I can’t imagine any community being severely affected by a branch closure. If a branch closes near an independent, the patients who move across will soon realise what a difference it makes to be served by a smaller group.

The announcement did, however, worry everyone. If a company as big as Boots is consolidating, there is a huge risk to the rest of us. Boots can easily move everything to a dispensing hub, as it has the capital to do so. Unfortunately, small independents are unable to make such moves, and we are stuck with what we have.

Despite all this, I’m thinking that as Boots carries on with its huge developments, it will lose the patients who desperately need a good service. These patients will begin to migrate to smaller pharmacies.

The current elderly generation doesn’t care about apps or “express pick-up lanes”; they want conversations and familiar faces. This is where independents excel. My patients were distraught that they had to suddenly phone Prescription Ordering Direct to order their medicines. Mention “online ordering” and the blood drains from their kind faces.

Every independent near a closing branch of Boots should grab the bull by the horns and provide the excellent service the multiple’s ex-customers deserve.

The Contractor is an independent pharmacy owner in England


Snake Plissken, Student

Boots, owned by Walgreens is militant in its approach to profit, that’s all they are cared about no matter the cost. They do have a habit of saying things that they renege on. So don’t believe anything they say but take the opposite and your not far off from the truth. 

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist


"The current elderly generation doesn’t care about apps or “express pick-up lanes”; they want conversations and familiar faces."

Hate to say you are wrong. Patients literally care about none of the above. All they care about is will their 20 items scripts, which they ordered just that morning, be ready in 5 mins or can they be delivered for free on the same day at precisely 6pm because they are going out for a dinner. 


Taranpreet Mundae, Locum pharmacist

You are right ABC DEF, patients want quick service but thats why I believe they are better served by independents. The delivery does not have to be free, a small charge of £1 can be requested. P2U and hub dispensing wont be able to get that patients meds to them today but your local pharmacy is better placed to. 

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Yes, lol wait until the patient gets admitted to hospital, they change their tablets, get discharged with 7 days, and see how this central hub can get it to them in that time! NO CHANCE.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Golden opportunity, I would have thought. Pity I've retired.

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Just me or anyone else feel like this is a sarcastic comment? 

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Lucky man!

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