The firm said it was consulting on the closure of up to 22 stores across mainly Scotland plus Northern Ireland and the north east of England. The affected Scottish sites either closing or under review are located in Airdrie, Alloa, Buckie, Castle Douglas, Castlemilk (Glasgow), Corstorphine (Edinburgh), Cumnock, Dalkeith, Forfar, Fort William, Hawick, Lochee (Dundee), Maybole, Musselburgh, Peterhead, Stirling, Victoria Road (Glasgow), Wester Hailes (Edinburgh) and Wick.
A total of 140 Semichem staff have now entered a formal consultation process. Management at Scotmid said they were exploring opportunities to redeploy as many as possible within its wider business.
Semichem was founded in 1980 and became part of Scotmid Co-operative in 1995. It currently operates 86 stores in shopping centres and on high streets across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north east of England.
Karen Scott, head of Semichem, said: “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.
“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. We are already looking for redeployment opportunities within the Scotmid group and will help all our staff both personally and professionally.”
She added: “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.”
In September, co-operative food business Scotmid said it had chalked up strong first-half results as more locked-down consumers shopped locally but it also warned of an “uncertain” second half.