Boots owner backtracks on ‘low-performing’ pharmacy review comments

Walgreens Boots Alliance announced on Tuesday (April 2) that it was taking  “immediate action” to address financial results “much weaker than expected”, which includes “decisive action” in the UK.

The company’s co-chief operating officer Alexander Gourlay said this includes a “store portfolio review”, which was also confirmed in a presentation accompanying the financial results (see below).

Expanding on the plans, Mr Gourlay said the review is “focusing on low-performing stores and opportunities for consolidation” and the company will also take a close look at the “pharmacy business to further improve efficiency and effectiveness”.

When asked by C+D for further detail on the plans for the UK, Walgreens Boots Alliance said: “We currently do not have a major programme envisaged, but as you’d expect we always review underperforming stores and seek out opportunities for consolidation.” 

It did not disclose how it is identifying low-performing pharmacies or what criteria it would use to decide to consolidate them.

The news of potential pharmacy closures was also picked up by the BBC and ITV among others, but Walgreens Boots Alliance claimed Mr Gourlay’s comments were taken out of context, and no pharmacy closures or job cuts were announced on Tuesday.

“There is no major review in place,” it stressed.

In February, Boots pharmacy director Richard Bradley told C+D that pharmacy closures and openings are “fairly regular” at the multiple, and the number of branches has remained “fairly consistent” at “around 2,500” over the last three years.

Author: Lorraine Oliver

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