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Walgreens will close a ‘significant’ number of its 8,600 US locations

New York CNN  —  Walgreens is set to close a substantial number of its roughly 8,600 locations across the United States as the company looks to reset the struggling pharmaceutical chain’s business. The company didn’t announce a specific number of store closures, but it said Thursday that it is planning “significant” closures of underperforming stores across America as part of a multiyear optimization program. CEO Tim Wentworth said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the store closures would make up a “meaningful percent” of the quarter-or-so locations that are underperforming. The closures would focus on locations that aren’t profitable, too close to each other or stores struggling with theft, Wentworth told the Journal. Walgreens’ (WBA) shares fell nearly 9% in premarket trading, which also announced during its earnings that it has slashed its full-year profit outlook. “We continue to face a difficult operating environment, including persistent pressures on the US consumer and the impact of recent marketplace dynamics which have eroded pharmacy margins,” Wentworth said in a press release. “Our results and outlook reflect these headwinds.” Major drugstore chains, including CVS (CVS) and Rite Aid, have struggled in recent years because of declining profits from filling prescriptions. They’ve declined because of lower reimbursement rates for prescription drugs and new competition from Amazon. The front end of drugstores, where they sell snacks and household staples, also face pressure from larger competitors, including Target and dollar stores. In the past few years, CVS has closed about 900 locations and Rite Aid, which entered bankruptcy in October, closed more than 100.