The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

Job cuts fuel speculatio­n over Boots’ future

- By Hannah Boland

WALGREENS Boots Alliance is laying off 500 staff at its US head office amid mounting speculatio­n over a potential break-up of the pharmacy chain owner.

It said the job cuts, equivalent to about 10pc of its corporate workforce, would largely take place in its Deerfield headquarte­rs in Illinois or in Chicago. The reductions will not affect pharmacy chain Boots or any of its UK operations.

In addition to Walgreens in the US, the company also owns Boots and the No7 Beauty Company.

A WBA spokesman said: “As we continue to transform our business into a consumer-centric healthcare company, we are focused on aligning our structure and streamlini­ng our operations to best serve our patients and customers … None of these roles is based at our stores, distributi­on centres, microfulfi­llment centres or call centres.”

The job cuts come amid speculatio­n over the future of the UK business.

Walgreens Boots shelved a sale of the retail chain last year after failing to find a buyer, citing an “unexpected and dramatic change” in financial markets.

A number of buyers had been linked to a deal, including the Issa brothers, who also own Asda.

Walgreens Boots had said at the time: “As a result of market instabilit­y severely impacting financing availabili­ty, no third party has been able to make an offer that adequately reflects the high potential value of Boots and No7 Beauty Company.”

However, reports have recently suggested that executives remain under pressure to consider a break-up. Claims have centred around the idea of Boots and other operations proving to be a “distractio­n” from the US business.

According to reports earlier this year, investors and board members were calling for the board to accelerate a focus on the US, spinning off internatio­nal operations as soon as possible.

Walgreens Alliance did not address the speculatio­n at the time, but Rosalind Brewer, its chief executive, said the company would continue to take “bold actions to create sustainabl­e long-term shareholde­r value”.

Accounts for the UK Boots business published yesterday showed that the total pay package for Seb James, the managing director, more than doubled to £3.8m last year.

A spokesman said a large part of his total pay was made up of long-term incentive plan awards.

They added: “This year’s increase in remunerati­on largely relates to such awards, which are made in Walgreens Boots Alliance shares that vest over a number of years and are reliant on various performanc­e factors being met.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom