Walgreens to shut 200 stores in US as part of cost-cutting plan

NEW YORK -- Pharmacy chain Walgreens plans to close 200 stores in the United States as part of a plan to cut costs.

The company said in a regulatory filing Tuesday the closings are part of its previously announced plan to trim costs by $1.5 billion in a few years.

"As previously announced, we are undertaking a transformational cost management program to accelerate the ongoing transformation of our business, enable investments in key areas and to become a more efficient enterprise," said a Walgreens spokesman in a statement. "As part of this effort, we plan to close approximately 200 stores in the U.S."

In May, the company announced plans to close 200 stores it operates under the Boots brand in the United Kingdom.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based company operates over 18,000 stores worldwide. In June it reported a 24% decline in quarterly net income and predicted that annual earnings would be roughly flat with the prior year.

Walgreens has been hit by challenges including reimbursement cuts and lower price increases for branded drugs.

In the year to date, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. shares are down nearly 25% while the broader S&P 500 is up 13%.

"Given that these closures will represent less than 3 percent of our stores overall, and given that we have multiple locations in many markets, we anticipate minimal disruption to customers and patients," the company spokesman said.

Walgreens said it expects to retain the majority of impacted store employees in other nearby locations.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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