The high streets in Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth continues faces an uncertain future with possible closures from high street mainstays Boots, reflecting a wider trend of retail and banking services scaling back their physical presence in UK towns.
Boots, which employs 52,000 people and has a branch in Ross-on-Wye, is set to shutter 300 stores across the country within the next 12 months. Although the fate of the Ross-on-Wye branch remains uncertain, the nationwide closure plan comes as a blow to the local community.
"We will continue to optimise our locations and opening hours," said James Kehoem, global chief financial officer at Walgreens, the parent company of Boots. This forms part of an overarching strategy to reduce Boots' locations from 2,200 stores to approximately 1,900.
Last week the closure of the HSBC branch in Ross-on-Wye marked the end of an era in local banking, leaving the town with just three remaining banks: Santander, Lloyds, and Nationwide. HSBC's closure is part of a nationwide strategy that saw 114 HSBC branches shuttered across the UK in response to a significant shift towards online and mobile banking over the past five years.
Walgreen Boots Alliance on Tuesday reported Boots had growth of 13.4 per cent in the third quarter of its financial year, compared to the year before, and continues to increase its market share.
For residents of Ross-on-Wye, particularly HSBC customers, the closure represents a major inconvenience, necessitating travel to Hereford or Gloucester to access the nearest branch. Nonetheless, HSBC UK underscores its commitment to providing a broader range of local support, extending beyond traditional bank branch formats.
These simultaneous high street closures in Ross-on-Wye highlight the nationwide trend of physical retail and banking branches winding down operations. It raises questions about the future viability of high street investment for businesses, reflecting the changing landscape of retail and banking services in the UK.