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Will All Seven Guildford Branches of Boots Survive Closure Programme?

Published on: 29 May, 2019
Updated on: 30 May, 2019

By Hugh Coakley

More than 200 of the 2,485 Boots stores across the UK could be closed over the next 12 to 18 months in a bid to cut costs.

Walgreens Boots Alliance, the American company who own Boots, said that early 2019 was “most difficult quarter we have had since the formation of Walgreens Boots Alliance” in December 2014. Sales had decreased due to “a challenging market in the UK”.

Boots in the High Street seen from Chapel Street.

Press reports said that Boots were considering closure of some branches at the expiry of their leases, while others would be part of a consolidation in towns which currently have more than one Boots store.

Guildford has seven Boots shops in or within about a mile and a half of the town centre and some of these branches could be vulnerable.

The seven Guildford branches are located on the High Street; Swan Lane (Boots Opticians); St Lukes Surgery, Warren Road; Stoughton Road; Epsom Road; Kingfisher Drive and the Aldershot Road.

Seven Boots branches are within one and a half miles of the town centre with an eighth store nearby in Shalford.

The Boots stores have been caught between the discount stores such as Poundland for many basic healthcare products and specialist retailers for more expensive items making the market increasingly competitive.

In a statement in April, the company said that they had “taken decisive steps to reduce costs in the UK.” The planned closures follow Boots’ announcement in February 2019 that 350 jobs were at risk in its Nottingham head office, amid plans to reduce costs by 20%.

A spokeswoman for Boots said: “We currently do not have a major programme envisaged, but as you’d expect we always review underperforming stores and seek out opportunities for consolidation.

“We are being realistic about the future and that we will need to be agile to adapt to the changing landscape.”

The plan by Boots to cut retail capacity looks to be part of a major high street realignment happening around the UK with a stream of major stores and chains shutting branches in the face of online competition, high rents and rates and changes in shopping habits.

Homebase in Ladymead is having a closing down sale and plans to shut completely by August 29 2019.

Guildford, whilst holding up well, is not an exception with Thomas Cook, Mothercare, Maplins, Steamer Trading Cookshop, New Look and West Cornwall Pasty Co already closed in the last two years. Debenhams is planned to close in early 2020 and Homebase in August 2019. Topman, owned by Sir Philip Green with a branch in The Friary, and Cotswold Outdoors in Friary Street, are both reported to be considering shutting high street shops.

Workmen ripping out the fixtures and fittings from what had been the West Cornwall Pasty Co shop in North Street today.

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test 8 Responses to Will All Seven Guildford Branches of Boots Survive Closure Programme?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    May 29, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    I hope they keep at least one open which can be driven to for those who are disabled and cannot walk far.

  2. Andrew Wadsted Reply

    May 30, 2019 at 8:35 am

    The Boots shop in Bramley, near Guildford, is closing in June.

  3. David Smith Reply

    May 30, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    The Guildford high street store has had no investment since the mid 90s when it swallowed up all the shops in Swan Lane. If they improved the fit out I’m sure it would generate more revenue.

  4. Michael Bruton Reply

    May 31, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Sectors do not die overnight, they fade slowly then whoops – gone. Think of video rental and TV rental shops and icons like Woolworths. Now look at the share price and writedowns by those property groups owning shopping centres.

    Think too of those useless councillors in our towns who voted to borrow and spend our money on investing in shopping centres. There is a very good book called “Crap Towns”. Depressing places like Blackpool etc. Former Tory Guildford ought to be included in the next edition.

    Now is the time to return decaying town centres like Guildford (and Dorking and Leatherhead) to their original role, for flats and houses where people live.

    Having vandalised much of Guildford over 60 years, the Tory architectural legacy in Guildford is a disgrace, vile even. The opportunity now is to redesign anything away from the old High Street/Castle area as pleasant living space, providing the Tories and the more gluttonous developers and “Award Winning” architects are kept at a distance!

    Michael Bruton is a spokesperson for the Guildford Greenbelt Group

    • Marlena Topple Reply

      May 31, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      I agree completely with Michael Bruton. Guildford town centre is ugly because of previous poor planning decisions.

  5. Robert Pollard Reply

    May 31, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Boots have lost lot of trade due to its pricing policy.

  6. A Atkinson Reply

    June 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    WH Smiths will be the next major chain to look at restructuring its high street presence. 2/3rds of its profit comes from the travel division (airports and train stations etc). Retail sales are reported to be falling 3-5% each year and it was voted the UK’s worst retailer for the 2nd year running. The shops’ offering is confused and the only customer service one gets is being asked if you want to buy short-dated/half price chocolate at the till.

    Whereas John Lewis and Richer Sounds topped the poll. I disagree somewhat with Mr Pollard that the only issue with Boots is pricing; it is one part. But Richer Sounds and JL have exceptional service and quality product and both value their staff.

    Richer Sounds recently floated and the CEO/owner gave its staff a massive share in the business, John Lewis does the same with its staff or partners. I think it is more likely independents who are able to offer better quality customer services, staff who feel valued and a focused, quality offering will win in the end.

    When I started in my retail career my sector had Bottoms Up, Victoria Wine, Threshers, 240 Oddbins, Wine Rack, Agnews, Gough Brothers, Majestic Wines, Wizard Wines, Unwins, Fullers wine Shops, Wine Cellar, Cellar 5 etc etc. All but three have gone: Oddbins – now about 30 stores but on the verge of administration, Majestic Wine – currently up for sale with likelihood of store closures and the Wine Rack – now with only 25 stores.

    However, the independent wine merchant scene is thriving by all accounts, with the successful ones being unique, creating a differentiated hybrid of retail, wine club, online, cafe, wine bar, education and socialising spaces etc to succeed – they are no longer “retailers”. Retail today, and even more in the future, is more about “experience” than just “selling stuff”.

    WH Smiths’ decline in high street sales was down, according to their Group CEO, to fewer spoof humour books this year vs last year. If I was a shareholder I would be asking for the resignation of the CEO, that is a doomed model, one cannot look on and accept your lot. Darwin was right, adapt or die, the one that fits most will survive ie the fittest.

    • Harry Eve Reply

      June 2, 2019 at 8:20 am

      Best shopping experience from the past – Gamages of Holborn.

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