Boots and John Lewis to close stores putting 5,300 jobs at risk

Marco Green
July 11, 2020

Last week retailers such as Harrods and Topshop announced redundancies and now John Lewis and Boots have been added to the list.

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.

Despite Boris Johnson's pledge of creating "jobs, jobs, jobs" to lift the United Kingdom economy out of the coronavirus slump, the last few months have seen multiple companies announcing thousands of layoffs as the pandemic either forced them into conservation mode or exacerbated existing problems in their businesses.

Boots will also be closing 48 Boots Opticians stores across the United Kingdom as part of the restructuring.

John Lewis also announced on Thursday that it is planning to permanently close eight of its 50 stores, including full department stores in Birmingham and Watford, with the likely loss of 1,300 jobs.

It said this was only partially offset by a 78% surge in sales during the pandemic.

However, the company says the cuts, announced this Thursday, will be imposed in the United Kingdom and that Boots stores in the Republic of Ireland will not be affected.

"The adverse impact of Covid-19 on sales in the quarter was approximately $700 million to $750 million, with the majority of the impact related to the Retail Pharmacy International division".

"Boots UK lost share in its categories, in a sharply lower market, as lockdown measures impacted high streets and shopping centers and compelled consumers to consolidate shopping into grocers".

Walgreens will also take a "non-cash impairment charge of $2 billion", to cover losses in the United Kingdom market.

It remains unclear whether stores in Armagh, Banbridge, Markethill, Newry and Portadown will be affected by the announcement.

However a number of employer groups have warned that this bonus may not be enough to protect jobs.

The company says it will also offer staff personal support and access to an enhanced retraining fund, which will contribute to the cost of training for a recognised qualification or course. Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield, White City Westfield and the Swindon outlet will reopen on 30 July.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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