Wallgreens Boots Alliance have “most difficult quarter” of trading

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has warned that it may be forced to close stores and cut jobs in the UK after suffering the “most difficult quarter” since its formation via merger in 2014, even though the vertically integrated multinational is still making £Billions in profits. The PDA Union will be supporting any members affected by the consequences of this announcement.

Wed 3rd April 2019 PDA Union

As part of their “global cost review” which began last year, the WBA group is looking at the viability of some of its 2,500 stores in the UK which could potentially lead to some closures.  WBA stated that it has already been taking “decisive steps” to cut costs in the UK in recent months as part of the restructuring programme to get itself back on track, however the global cuts target has now been increased from $1 billion to in excess of $1.5 billion of annual expenditure.

This is likely to have a material impact in the UK and it was already revealed in February that up to 350 jobs were at risk at Boots UK head office in Nottingham due to the restructuring plans.  You can read the PDAU response here.

Talking about the latest results a Boots spokesperson said: “We currently do not have a major programme envisaged, but as you’d expect we always review under-performing stores and seek out opportunities for consolidation.”

Paul Day, Director of the PDA Union said: “It’s well known that we have just secured recognition at Boots after an eight year campaign that will finally force the company to respect the wishes of pharmacists to be represented by an independent trade union.

We are literally at the very beginning of talks to agree how we will work together and that includes how we will deal with potential redundancy situations, like those that could come from this announcement. 

As we are now recognised, there are already some legal obligations to consult with us over potential redundancies.  We are hopeful that Boots will agree to enhance those legal minimum arrangements so that we can make sure every individual facing the consequences of a redundancy is fully supported and every effort is made to keep pharmacists in employment. This was already our objective before this particular announcement.”

Redundancies are not the only consequence of this announcement and the company has said that poor trading results may also have an effect on future pay and bonuses for Boots pharmacists.

Walgreens is of course a huge and complex enterprise, and their financial position is not purely down to Boots, however as far as the contribution Boots UK makes to its overall operation, we are also aware of the impact of the cuts made by NHS England to community pharmacy.  Boots’ operating model and scale may make it more resilient to those cuts than its smaller competitors, but this announcement shows that it too could close stores.

As health professionals, PDA members are also concerned about the impact a reduction in community pharmacies could have on patient care. It is often the case in any sector that once one key player starts to close stores, others follow suit and communities should not suddenly find they have insufficient access to a pharmacist.

The PDA are calling this potential trend out in advance and once again challenging politicians and senior civil servants with responsibility for community pharmacy to realise the potential of community pharmacy.  It is the most accessible part of the NHS and the dedicated health professionals that work there could be doing so much more to help improve the health of the nation.

 

Advice for members

Any PDAU member can contact us in confidence to talk about any workplace concern or query, including redundancy.  A generic PDAU briefing about redundancy is available below and pharmacists can understand the redundancy process; however the union recommend that members get specific advice based on their own circumstances should a potential redundancy situation occur.

Redundancy briefing: 

thumbnail of PDA Redundancy and Restructuring Briefing 2019

If any PDAU member becomes aware that their job is at risk of redundancy they should contact us without delay.

We are concerned for the general well-being of members affected by such situations and in addition to the support and representation available from the PDAU, we would also like to remind pharmacists of the excellent personal support provided by Pharmacist Support. 

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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