THE future of Semichem in Alloa hangs in the balance as the retailer began consultation over proposals to close up to 22 stores.

The business, owned by community retailer Scotmid Co-operative, cited challenges on the high street, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the reasons behind the move.

While several stores on the list of 22 are set to close, the Alloa shop is one of few to remain “under review”.

Semichem said it is in talks with landlords in several locations and a final decision on the small number of stores still under review will be made in the coming months.

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.”

A total of 140 staff have entered a formal consultation process as a result.

The stores earmarked for closure, or under review, are based across Scotland, Northern Ireland and north east England.

They also include the store on nearby Stirling's Port Street, which is “closing”.

Semichem currently operates 86 stores, having been founded in 1980 and becoming a part of Scotmid in 1995.

The health and household goods retailer said it has invested £2.2million refitting stores, trialling a range of fresh retail concepts over the past three years.

Company head Karen Scott 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.”