Semichem store front 2

Source: Scotmid Co-op

The move could put as many as 140 jobs at risk

Discount health and beauty retailer Semichem could shutter as many as 22 stores from its network of 86 sites after coronavirus wreaked havoc on the high street. 

The move comes in response to a 75% drop in footfall in some locations, and has consequently put 140 jobs at risk. 

The Scotmid Co-op-owned business said the affected staff members have entered a formal consultation process. It is looking to redeploy as many colleagues as possible within the wider business to support staff “both personally and professionally”.

Six of the impacted stores are still under review and Semichem will be making the final decision on their closure over the coming months.

The other 16 stores, which span Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north east of England, will not be closing until at least late April.

“The high street was already struggling to adapt to the pace of change in shopping habits, including out-of-town developments and the rise of internet shopping,” said head of Semichem Karen Scott.

“That change has undoubtedly been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Sadly, we have reached the point where it is no longer viable to keep some of our stores open.

“We are grateful for both Scotmid and subsequent government support, which has undoubtedly prolonged the life of many stores. Our priority now is to support affected colleagues at this difficult time. 

“The remaining stores in our Semichem portfolio are trading satisfactorily given the current circumstances. Like many other retailers, we are hopeful that, as restrictions ease, footfall will return to our high streets. I am also pleased to say that our investment programme will resume in the summer.”