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Norfolk Business Awards 2019

Could Boots stores in Norfolk be at risk of closure in restructure?

PUBLISHED: 07:22 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:51 29 May 2019

Boots is considering shutting 200 stores as part of a restructure. Picture: Nick Butcher

Boots is considering shutting 200 stores as part of a restructure. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Boots the chemist could close more than 200 stores in a restructuring programme over the next two years.

The go-to beauty and pharmacy chain's American owner announced a review of its stores in April, focusing on low-performing ones, as part of a "decisive step" to cut costs.

On Tuesday Sky News reported that around 10pc of its 2,500 stores could be at risk, but the chain's owner, Walgreen Boots Alliances (WBA), had declined to specify how many could be closed.

A source close to the company told Sky that some affected sites could close at the end of current leases while others could fall victim to consolidation in towns where there is more than one store.

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Boots has around 53 branches in Norfolk, including 17 in Norwich and its suburbs, five in King's Lynn and three in Great Yarmouth, with other stores in larger towns such as Holt, Cromer, Thetford, Dereham and North Walsham. Lowestoft has five branches.

Earlier this year the company - which has around 56,000 employees nationally - downplayed fears it would be closing a number of East Anglian stores, including in Brandon and Felixstowe.

A WBA spokesman said: "We currently do not have a major programme envisaged, but as you would expect we always review underperforming stores and seek out opportunities for consolidation."

Boots is the latest in a string of high street casualties in the UK, with Select, House of Fraser and restaurants such as Jamie's Italian all feeling combined pinch from lower consumer confidence and higher rates and rents.

In April the business reported it had suffered its "most difficult" quarter in the group's history.

Official figures show there was a 2.3% drop in like-for-like UK retail sales in its second quarter to February 28, while comparable pharmacy sales dropped 1.5%.

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