Around 100 jobs in jeopardy at Boots stores in Northern Ireland

Daniel Fowler
July 11, 2020

The company said the radical shakeup would see 20% of its United Kingdom workforce lose their jobs, as well as the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores. It comes on the same day John Lewis and Burger King also announced they could make sweeping job cuts, and Rolls-Royce confirmed 3,000 staff had applied after it sought voluntary redundancies.

The coronavirus pandemic has heaped additional problems onto many retailers who were already struggling due to tight margins, competition from online-only stores and the cost of business rate taxes.

John Lewis had previously warned that it was considering permanently closing some of its stores, warning that it had "too much store space" for the way consumers will shop in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

It has been reported a number of deputy and assistant manager roles, as well as beauty advisors and customer advisor roles will be affected by brand's restructuring. Boots said its online sales had soared 78% during the lockdown and it would be investing more into online and digital services in future.

The Walgreens-owned chemist said it was taking "decisive action to mitigate the significant impact that Covid-19 has had on the business".

That helped to nearly halve like-for-like sales for the three months to the end of May compared with the same period a year ago, while sales dipped by nearly three quarters for Boots Opticians. It said it was cutting jobs in the face of "drastically reduced occupancies and revenues".

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The decision followed a 48% plunge in sales at Boots UK in the three months to May 31 even though stores had stayed open as essential businesses throughout the lockdown.

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

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

"We recognise that today's proposals will be very hard 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".

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.

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