The owner of retail chain Boots has warned over UK store closures as it looks to slash costs amid the “most difficult” quarter in the group’s history.

US-based Walgreens Boots Alliance said it had started taking “decisive steps” in the UK to cut costs, including reviewing its near-2,500 Boots retail stores.

The group, which has stores across Cumbria, revealed it was looking at poor performing shops as well opportunities for consolidation.

It follows the group’s announcement in February that 350 jobs are at risk in its Nottingham head office amid plans to trim HQ staff costs by 20 per cent.

It is also looking at ways to overhaul its pharmacy business.

Walgreens reported a 2.3 per cent drop in like-for-like UK retail sales in its second quarter to February 28, while comparable pharmacy sales dropped 1.5 per cent.

Boss Stefano Pessina branded it the “most difficult quarter we have had since the formation of Walgreens Boots Alliance”.

The group is now expecting underlying earnings per share growth to be roughly flat in the current financial year.

Mr Pessina admitted the group did not take action swiftly enough to offset challenging conditions.

But he outlined plans to turn around it fortunes, including ramping up global cost cutting targets by around another £383 million to more than £1.1 billion by 2022.

He also plans to boost its digital capability and transformation.