Scottish independent retail society Scotmid Co-operative has begun consultation over plans to close as many as 22 of its Semichem health and household goods stores.
The co-op said the Covid-19 pandemic had added to challenges for the high street sector. It is talks with landlords in several locations, and 140 Semichem staff have entered a formal consultation process.
A final decision will be made over the next few months, and the co-op says it hopes to redeploy as many of the affected staff as possible. Stores are affected in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north east of England.
Semichem head 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.”
Stores confirmed for closure are Buckie (Highlands); Castle Douglas (Dumfries and Galloway); Corstorphine (Edinburgh); Cumnock (East Ayrshire); Forfar (Angus); Fort William (Highlands); Hawick (Borders); Lisnagelvin (Londonderry); Lochee (Dundee); Musselburgh (East Lothian); Park Centre (Belfast); Seaton Valley (Northumberland); Stirling; Victoria Road, Glasgow; Wester Hailes (Edinburgh) and Wick (Highlands).
Under review are Airdrie (North Lanarkshire); Alloa (Clackmannshire); Castlemilk (Glasgow); Dalkeith (Midlothian); Maybole (South Ayrshire); and Peterhead (Aberdeenshire).