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Norfolk Business Awards 2019

Norfolk high streets hit again as Boots look to close stores

PUBLISHED: 08:55 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:03 03 April 2019

Boots is looking to close stores. Picture: Nick Butcher

Boots is looking to close stores. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Boots has warned that it is looking to close UK stores as it looks to slash costs amid the "most difficult" quarter in the group's history.

Boots is owned by the US-based Walgreens Boots Alliance, which has said it is making “decisive steps” to cut costs - including reviewing its 2,500 stores.

In Norwich alone there are 22 Boots stores, including opticians and pharmacies.

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There are eight stores in and around King’s Lynn, near 10 in mid-Norfolk, and 10 variously in and around Great Yarmouth, as well as many more besides.

The group revealed it is looking at poor performing shops as well “opportunities for consolidation”.

It follows the group’s announcement in February that 350 jobs are at risk in its Nottingham head office amid plans to trim HQ staff costs by 20%.

The details come as owner Walgreens Boots Alliance reported 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%.

Walgreens Boots Alliance boss Stefano Pessina admitted the group did not take action swiftly enough to offset challenging conditions.

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But he outlined plans to turn around it fortunes, including ramping up global cost cutting targets by around another 500 million US dollars (£383 million) to more than 1.5 billion US dollars (£1.1 billion) by 2022.

He also plans to make a number of senior hires to speed up efforts to boost its digital capability and transformation.

Mr Pessina said: “Our response was not rapid enough given market conditions, resulting in a disappointing quarter that did not meet our expectations.”

He added: “We are going to be more aggressive in our response to these rapidly shifting trends.

“We are focusing on our operational strengths and addressing weaknesses.”

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