Councillors concerned about Uttlesford as Boots axes staff and stores

PUBLISHED: 16:50 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:50 10 July 2020

Boots announced store closures and staff cuts across the country. Picture: Jacob Savill

Boots announced store closures and staff cuts across the country. Picture: Jacob Savill


High street pharmacy giant Boots has announced more than 4,000 staff will lose their jobs and dozens of UK stores will close, prompting fears from Stansted and Saffron Walden councillors.

The retailer is currently in consultations about cutting seven percent of its workforce from the head office and stores, and close 48 opticians practices.

Staff in the Stansted and the Saffron Walden stores declined to comment - and the head office refused to say which stores will be affected.

A Boots UK spokesperson said the cuts were caused by store closures and the reduction of customers during the pandemic, as well as a decreased demand for one-off prescriptions and medicines.

Sebastian James, Boots UK managing director, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth. In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months. They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.

“We recognise the proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

Daniel Brett, a Labour parish councillor in Stansted, said the news could be a “great blow” to the Boots store in Stansted and that the Saffron Walden store could face downsizing due to higher competition in the town.

“Giving that Boots in Stansted is the only licensed pharmacy to dispense in the village, it underlines the need to have more than one licensed pharmacy, because, if one goes, we are stuffed.” Cllr Brett said.

He added: “We are dependent on the commercial success of a giant.”

“Saffron Walden is different, there are more pharmacies, there are always three or four pharmacies there. They might see a reduction in staff hours.”

Cllr Brett said he was concerned that a reduction in hours could mean cutting services. This happened initially to the Stansted branch during lockdown, and, although the hours are now back to normal, the councillor continues to campaign for a second licensed pharmacy in Stansted: Saffron Walden Deputy Mayor, R4U Cllr Richard Porch said it would be “an absolute disaster” if either the store or the Opticians closed. “All those stores are heavily used,” he added.

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