Pharmacy multiple Boots has announced the closure of 300 UK stores over the next twelve months, citing the need to concentrate its team members ‘where they are needed’.
Community Pharmacy England chief executive Janet Morrison said that the move was ‘not surprising’ and reflective of the pressures currently experienced by community pharmacy.
The pharmacy chain said that it would be continuing to ‘consolidate a number of stores in close proximity to each other’, leaving it with a network of 1,900 stores across the UK.
It said that this ‘evolution’ of its estate would enable it to ‘uplift’ and invest in existing stores and ‘concentrate its team members where they are needed’.
This would help it to consistently deliver ‘an excellent and reliable service in a fresh and up to date environment’, the multiple said in a statement this week.
No redundancies are being proposed, and all impacted team members are to be offered redeployment.
This comes as Boots, alongside its US owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), released Q3 results demonstrating a 13% growth in retail sales, and an increase in the company’s market share for the ninth consecutive quarter.
While this was attributed to strong sales of skincare and other beauty products, the multiple said that pharmacy sales were also at their best level in six quarters.
Sales of pharmacy products were up 5.7%, and the pharmacy chain sold one product from new erectile dysfunction range, Eroxon, every 30 seconds on the day it was launched.
Footfall in Boots stores increased by 6.9%, ahead of the national average of 2.8%; digital sales increased more than 25%, with transactions on Boots.com up 18.8%; and the Boots App grew 37.9% since last year, now with 6.2 million active users.
And sales from Boots Online Doctor had also increased this quarter by up 15%.
Community Pharmacy England chief executive Janet Morrison said that it was ‘no surprise’ that Boots was continuing to consolidate a number of its stores over the next year, saying that the trend of multiples closing stores was ‘reflective of the very difficult current trading conditions within community pharmacy’.
‘While consolidations can make a difference across large networks, smaller and medium-sized businesses are having to look at other options in the struggle to make ends meet: running a community pharmacy remains, for most, a battle for survival.
‘Government and the NHS must take action to reverse the damage that their historic funding cuts are causing,’ she added.
Multiple LloydsPharmacy have closed 237 branches located within Sainsbury’s stores since January, as well as ‘selectively selling' some of its high street branches.
And the Company Chemists' Association, which represents the interests of pharmacy multiples including Boots and LloydsPharmacy, recently highlighted the workforce shortage facing the community pharmacy sector, suggesting that the community pharmacist workforce had been ‘funnelled’ into primary care by the ARRS scheme, compounding workload and cost pressures within the sector.