High street chemist Boots has announced plans to axe four hundred jobs from stores across the UK as part of a restructure.
The retail chain has pledged to shut two-thirds of all their photo labs across the UK with the loss of approximately 400 jobs. Although Boots have stated that retraining and redeployment will be offered to those facing job losses “where possible”, it looks to be an inevitably large blow to staff across the country.
Boots lay the blame for the cuts in the decreasing public interest in traditional one-hour photograph development services as more people rely instead on digital photos taken by smartphones and digital cameras. Boots currently have over 1000 digital photo kiosks available in stores which allow users to digitally print pictures from USB sticks or memory cards but these are largely automated, requiring few staff to run. People are developing fewer photographs than ever with a growing trend towards personalised photo gifts such as cards, mugs and other items. Many customers who still require traditional film developing will be expected to use a mail order service based in Nottingham.
A Boots spokesperson said that they will focus on “supporting any impacted colleagues through this, as we continue to transform our photo offer”, however, what of forms support are likely to be available – from a business model that is increasingly moving towards automation through digital photo kiosks and self-service tills – is questionable. A list of branches affected has not been made public, although it is understood that the staff affected were informed on Wednesday. A consultation is now currently underway.
This is only the latest chapter in large-scale job cuts within the organisation. Last June, Boots announced that they planned on cutting around 700 jobs from their back-offices, partly through voluntary redundancy. Last February, Boots revealed plans to remove 350 assistant store managers from larger stores and outsource around another 400 members of staff to “Teleperformance” customer service centres in a bid to “simplify” the business.
Boots have seen huge cost and job cutting savings in recent years, whilst profits have continued to grow under the leadership of billionaire chief executive Stefano Pessina, who oversaw a huge merger resulting in Walgreens Boots Alliance in 2014. Stefano Pessina has faced criticism from the media and MPs including Vince Cable for moving the formal tax residence of Boots from the UK to Switzerland, allowing Boots to avoid paying taxes in the UK.