Boots becomes latest big High Street name to suffer economic woes as it confirms 200 store closures

Boots has confirmed that 200 stores will close under cost-saving plans. Credit: PA

Boots has confirmed that a store closure programme will affect around 200 locations, primarily local pharmacies.

The retail chain said its owner, Walgreens Boots Alliance, has now approved a plan which will see primarily local pharmacy branches shut down in locations where there are other stores nearby.

It is unclear how many jobs will be affected by the move, with Boots promising to find new roles for staff where possible.

It's the latest in a long line of big names to report store closes or job losses.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK and Ireland, said: “We believe this is the right thing to do as it means that we can invest more in staffing those stores while not reducing our 90% coverage within a 10-minute drive of a Boots.

“We do not anticipate a significant effect from this activity to colleagues as we will redeploy the overwhelming majority to neighbouring stores.”

Boots has been a feature of British high streets for decades. Credit: PA

The changes are part of wide-ranging cost reduction plans by Walgreens, which on Thursday revealed its profits had been hit by declining retail sales in the US and UK.

Usdaw, the union for retail workers, called for the company to enter talks and said it was “worrying” news for employees.

National officer Daniel Adams said: “We urge the company to engage with Usdaw as the trade union for Boots retail staff to ensure that all avenues to minimise job losses are explored during this critical time.

“This issue is not confined to Boots; our high streets are in crisis and we need the Government to adopt a clear and coherent strategy for retail, to address the worries and concerns of shop workers and our members.”

Boots is the latest in a number of big name High Street brands to be hit with twin headwinds of a fragile economic outlook and the growth of online shopping.

Debenhams has announced major jobs losses, the Bathstore chain announced this week it was going into administration, Jamie Oliver saw his restaurant chain practically wiped out, while Philip Green's Arcadia group survived a last-minute shareholder revolt to live to fight another day.