Media reports of Boots store closure strategy

The PDA has seen media reports of a large scale branch closure programme by Boots and is reassuring members that the union will be doing all it can to protect their employment should they be affected.

Tue 28th May 2019 PDA Union

The national media are reporting that Boots UK has a plan to close several hundred of their branches, totalling perhaps 10% of their 2,500-location current estate.  Although the company has declined to comment on the number of stores that may face closure, the PDA Union nevertheless is alerting members to the possible implications of such a strategy.

The PDA Union understand that pressure on high street businesses is apparent in all communities arising from changes in customer behaviour due to online commerce, and pharmacies are under additional pressure as the government seek to reduce the costs of providing NHS services through the community pharmacy network.  However, a pharmacy is not like other retailers; pharmacists are the experts in medicines and the public rely on them to receive the care they need and to take pressure off overburdened GP surgeries.  Community pharmacy is the most accessible contact point in the NHS.   In addition, forward-thinking governments around the UK are seeking to make greater use of pharmacies to reduce pressure on other parts of the NHS, so there should be a higher profile of community pharmacies, rather than seeing this valuable public health resource disappear from the high street.

That said, Boots is a private business, where the parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance, has set itself a large cost-saving target focused on the UK pharmacy operation. They have already undertaken a redundancy programme in head office and it has been widely anticipated that the normal low level of branch mergers and relocations which routinely happens in such a business will increase, although we have seen no evidence yet that it would reach the levels reported by today’s media coverage.

The PDA Union recently won an 8 year campaign to be recognised by the company as the independent voice of the 7,000 store pharmacists and we are about to conclude negotiations on how we will work with the company.  Part of that relationship will include discussions about any potential store closures as they are proposed.

Mark Pitt, Assistant General Secretary of PDAU said ”PDAU members can be assured that  their  union will be working tirelessly to avoid job losses for pharmacists and protecting their interests. Under the draft recognition agreement we will discuss matters with the company collectively and continue to provide individual support for affected pharmacists to ensure any who leaves the company does so with appropriate support and compensation and those who remain are properly resourced to undertake the work that continues.”

The PDA team includes experts in employment law so we can help with every aspect of such a change. Pharmacists are encouraged to join the PDAU and similarly we would encourage other members of the store team to join an appropriate union for them.

Mark Pitt added “Our members are understandably concerned about this announcement.  We are already hearing from some who are worried they may be directly affected. 

Once more details are known we will be able to help individuals with any specific concerns. Pharmacists can be reassured that the PDA will help ensure that members are treated fairly and pharmacists should contact us for advice if they become affected by any closures.


The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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