Walgreens planning to close significant number of US stores, CEO says

FILE - A Walgreens store in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 24, 2024. Photographer: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walgreens is planning to close a significant share of U.S. stores as it deals with weak consumer spending, according to the CEO of its parent company.

CEO Tim Wentworth of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which owns both pharmacy chains Walgreens in the U.S. and Boots in the U.K., told the Wall Street Journal this week that the company is planning to close a substantial number of poorly performing U.S. stores.

A final number of store closures has not yet been decided, Wentworth added, but said the company is reviewing about a quarter of its stores that aren’t profitable and could shutter a "meaningful percent" of those over the next few years, according to the outlet. 

Walgreens currently has about 8,600 stores in the U.S.

Wentworth also said the Deerfield, Illinois-based company will reduce its stake in primary-care provider VillageMD, and will no longer be the company’s majority owner, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Meanwhile, Walgreens isn’t currently planning to unload overseas pharmacy chain Boots or Shields Health Solutions, a specialty pharmacy firm, Wentworth noted. 

He added that Walgreens expects to reassign employees so that its U.S. retail footprint reduction didn’t result in a meaningful loss of jobs, the outlet reported. 

Walgreens Boots Alliance’s  stock WBA, fell 12% early Thursday, after the chain’s fiscal third-quarter profit fell short of estimates, according to Market Watch

"We continue to face a difficult operating environment, including persistent pressures on the U.S. consumer and the impact of recent marketplace dynamics which have eroded pharmacy margins," Wentworth said in a prepared statement. 

The company added that it’s focused on improving its core business of retail pharmacy, "which is central to the future of healthcare."

"We are addressing critical issues with urgency and working to unlock opportunities for growth," he added.

Walgreens to join growing list of chain closures

Walgreens joins a growing list of retail and dining chains facing the harsh realities of inflation in the U.S. Earlier this week, Hooters announced that it plans to close several "underperforming" restaurants.

Seafood chain Red Lobster announced in May it would be "auctioning off 50+ locations across the country," just days before filing for bankruptcy.

Dollar Tree in March said it was closing about 1,000 of its Family Dollar stores after suffering a significant quarterly loss, while TGI Fridays also abruptly shuttered dozens of underperforming restaurants across the country in January.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.