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Boots to cut more than 4,000 jobs after Covid-19 hammers sales

The move will affect around 7% of the company’s workforce and will particularly impact staff in its Nottingham support office.

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Boots is to close 48 of its optician stores as part of cuts (Mike Egerton/PA)

Boots is to close 48 of its optician stores as part of cuts (Mike Egerton/PA)

Boots is to close 48 of its optician stores as part of cuts (Mike Egerton/PA)

High street pharmacy chain Boots has said it expects to cut more than 4,000 jobs as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19.

The move will affect around 7% of the company’s workforce and will particularly affect staff in its Nottingham support office.

It will also affect some deputy and assistant manager, beauty adviser and customer adviser roles across its stores.

The restructuring will also result in the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores.

It comes after retail sales tumbled by 48% over the past three months in the face of the pandemic, despite Boots keeping swathes of its stores open to customers.

Meanwhile, its opticians business saw sales dive by 72% compared to the same quarter last year as people stayed at home.

Boots said that the cuts represent an “acceleration” of its transformation plans to improve profitably across the business.

The retailer said it has significantly invested in Boots.com during the lockdown as more customers moved online, with the company reporting a 78% increase in online sales over the quarter.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.

“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.”

“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

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Pharmacist Mina Hunjan prepares medications at a Boots store for delivery to care homes (Fabio De Paola/PA)

Pharmacist Mina Hunjan prepares medications at a Boots store for delivery to care homes (Fabio De Paola/PA)

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Pharmacist Mina Hunjan prepares medications at a Boots store for delivery to care homes (Fabio De Paola/PA)

The announcement came hours after fellow retailer John Lewis announced plans to shut eight stores, in a move which put around 1,300 jobs at risk.

Lucy Powell, shadow minister for business and consumers, said: “This is deeply worrying news for staff at John Lewis and Boots and the travel hubs and town centres these stores are in.

“These announcements underline the dangers facing our high street, as many businesses struggle to survive through the Covid-19 crisis and the necessary public health measures which limit capacity and demand.”

PA