HR director backs team to stay focused during Boots upheaval

The HR director at Boots has backed his team to meet the challenge of managing a massive restructuring programme at the health and beauty retailer.

Last week, the company announced that it will cut 2,250 jobs over the next three years, as part of an overhaul of its supply chain and IT operations. The aim is to cut annual operating costs by £60m by 2011, the company said. Boots hopes to minimise redundancies through “natural wastage”.

Mike Cutt, group HR director, said the retailer’s HR department had become adept at managing such change following recent restructuring at a cosmetics plant in Airdrie, Scotland.

“Boots is changing very fast, probably faster than any other large UK retailer,” he told Personnel Today. “In Airdrie, we helped 96% of the Boots workforce to redeploy over a two-year period, while the factory continued at high levels of productivity. We are hoping to achieve the same positive outcome with our supply chain people.

HR’s role now was to keep employees updated regularly on the detail and the timetable of the changes and work hard on redeployment opportunities, Cutt said. He added that the firm was working closely with its unions and said discussions had been “constructive”.

More upheaval is expected as the merger of Boots and pharmacy chain Alliance Unichem nears completion.

Cutt said the Boots HR team was “at the heart of merger planning to ensure that the leadership, organisation and culture of the new business is best positioned to achieve success”.

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