Covid-19: Boots announces 4,000 job losses as it focuses on digital

Boots UK has announced 4,000 job losses across its head office, stores and optician teams as it accelerates its digital transformation plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The redundancies will affect 7% of its workforce and 48 Boots Opticians’ stores will close.

The news comes as its parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, posted third quarter financial results showing that sales fell 48% for Boots UK and 72% for Boots Opticians compared to the same period last year.

With the consumer shift to eCommerce during the crisis likely to be permanent, the health and beauty retailer plans to focus on developing its digital operations further going forward, continuing to invest in its digital pharmacy and retail services.

Boots said it has been able to double the capacity of Boots.com over the lockdown period, with a 78% rise in sales on this platform.

It has also begun offering a number of in-store experiences virtually in recent months, including face-to-face consultations and its beauty service.

Sebastian James, managing director, 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. 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.”

Earlier today, Boots announced that Jamie Kurruish has been drafted in “on a secondment basis” to run Boots.com following the departure of Sophie Neary as director of eCommerce & digital retail transformation.

There appears to be a major reshaping of the business models of retailers as lockdown restrictions are eased, leading to job losses. The John Lewis Partnership today said that eight of its stores will not reopen despite the lifting of lockdown, putting around 1,300 jobs at risk.