Two of the UK's best-known high-street retail brands, John Lewis and Boots, slash more than 5,000 jobs combined

Naomi Baker/GettyA John Lewis store is pictured on May 30, 2020 in Southampton, England.
  • Two of Britain’s best-known high-street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, announced more than 5,000 job cuts on Thursday.
  • John Lewis said it would cut 1,300 jobs, while Boots plans to axe 4,000 jobs. Both retailers are closing down stores and struggling with consumer footfall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Other retailers in the UK that recently warned of job cuts running into the thousands include luxury department store Harrods, sandwich chain Pret A Manger, and fast-food outlet Burger King.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Britain’s high-end department store John Lewis and beauty retailer Boots have announced plans to slash a combined 5,300 jobs as part of their store closure plans.

John Lewis said on Thursday that it would permanently shut eight of its flagship stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

Boots said it would axe 4,000 jobs and close 48 optician stores.

The eight shuttered John Lewis stores were struggling financially even before the pandemic, it said. Among them are its travel hub shops at Heathrow Airport and St Pancras International railway station.

Before the COVID-19 lockdown, 40% of the retailer’s sales were online. Now, John Lewis expects online sales to make up “closer to 60 to 70 per cent of total sales” this year and next, it said.

“Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business,” Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said in a statement.

GettyImages 1211910612SOPA/GettyBoots logo seen at one of their retail store branches.

The job cuts at Boots represent 7% of the health and beauty chain’s workforce.

Walgreens Boots Alliance, its parent firm, said the pandemic had cost between $US700 million to $US750 million in sales, and that footfall had dropped 85%.

“Shopping patterns are evolving more rapidly than ever as consumers further embrace digital options, spurring us to accelerate our ongoing investments in digital transformation and neighbourhood health destinations,” CEO Stefano Pessina said in a statement.

Other retailers in the UK that recently warned of job cuts running into the thousands include luxury department store Harrods, sandwich chain Pret A Manger, and fast-food outlet Burger King.

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