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4,000 Boots jobs at risk as chain is hammered by coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 12:27 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 09 July 2020

People waiting to get iunto Boots in Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People waiting to get iunto Boots in Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Jobs in East Anglia are at risk as Boots has said it expects to cut more than 4,000 jobs because of 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.

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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.

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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.”

But the region’s John Lewis stores have avoided closure as the department store chain announced it was closing eight sites.

It said department stores in Birmingham and Watford will be affected, along with four At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, and travel sites in Heathrow and St Pancras.

Prior to the pandemic, the eight outlets were already “financially challenged” but customers have moved away from stores and towards shopping online faster as a result of coronavirus, it said.

The group estimated that between 60% and 70% of John Lewis sales will be made online this year and next, compared with 40% before the coronavirus crisis.

Around 1,300 of its workers, known as partners, will now enter consultations over the cuts.

The company said that, if redundancies are confirmed, “every effort” will be made to find new roles where possible across the group.


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