boots high street store GettyImages-1164064863

Source: Getty Images

Boots is to close 300 stores over the next year to focus investment on better-performing sites and address trading overlap.

The retailer is to cut store numbers from 2,200 to 1,900 in an “ongoing investment into the rejuvenation of the store estate”.

Shopworkers affected by the closures are to be offered jobs at other stores.

“Boots will continue to consolidate a number of stores in close proximity to each other,” the retailer said in its quarter three trading update.

“Evolving the store estate in this way allows Boots to concentrate its team members where they are needed and focus investment more acutely in individual stores, with the ambition of consistently delivering an excellent and reliable service in a fresh and up-to-date environment.”

The plans follow 200 store closures by Boots in the 18 months to January last year.

They also come amid speculation Boots could be sold or floated by the end of this year, as US owner Walgreens Boots Alliance weighs up a break of the business, having aborted attempts to offload the UK pharmacy last year.

Tired old Boots needs a beauty makeover after Walgreens cancels sale. But how?

Walgreens today said it was “taking immediate actions to drive sustainable growth” including “advancing portfolio simplification to pay down debt and fund strategic initiatives”.

Boots’ retail sales were up 13.4% year on year in the three months to 31 May 2023, driven by footfall growth ahead of the wider retail market, it said.

Travel stores and flagship sites in city centres saw the biggest increase, according to the update.

Digital sales grew by 25.2% year on year and beauty sales by 18%.

Pharmacy sales were up 5.7%, the best performance in six quarters, driven by a strong start to hay fever season and over the counter medication, including the launch of new erectile dysfunction range Eroxon, which sold once every 30 seconds on the day of launch.

“Our focus on offering our customers the best in healthcare and beauty, together with a continued commitment to great value, has been well received, and it is lovely to see more people choosing to shop with Boots,” said Boots UK & Ireland MD Seb James.