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Jobs blow for Buckie as Semichem store to shut

By Alan Beresford

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BUCKIE has suffered a jobs blow following the announcement that Semichem is to close its store in the town.

The Semichem store in Buckie is set to close with the loss of six jobs. Picture: Becky Saunderson
The Semichem store in Buckie is set to close with the loss of six jobs. Picture: Becky Saunderson

It is one of up to 22 outlets which could be closed by the health and household goods retailer across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north-east of England.

The closure of Semichem in Buckie could cost up to six jobs. Consultations with the staff are ongoing.

Semichem said the move has been prompted by ongoing challenges to high street trading, which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The business, which is owned by community retailer Scotmid Co-operative, is in talks with landlords in several locations and will make a final decision on a small number of the 22 stores in the coming months.

The news was greeted with shock and disappointment by Buckie's three councillors.

Councillor Tim Eagle said: "This is such a shame to see, even recognising that many do online shop these days.

"I still think it vital we have a flourishing high street in Buckie.

"Local high streets provide jobs, social space, and access to a wide range of goods for those who prefer to shop in person. This year has been so difficult for businesses and government and council must continue to step up to support them.

"As politicians we simply cannot let loss of shops like this continue, and this comes at a time when I know new businesses in Buckie are struggling with the planning regulations to start up.

"We need more initiatives in place such as easier planning rules, business rate free zones, grants and good parking to make sure we reverse the decline of shops and move back to busy high streets."

Councillor Gordon Cowie commented: "I'm so sorry to hear this sad news that another popular shop is closing.

"My heart goes out to the staff who were all very helpful when you went in and always smiling. It will be sorely missed."

Councillor Sonya Warren added: "It's very disappointing to hear that a long-standing Buckie store is closing its doors.

"My thoughts are with those who will lose their jobs as a result of this.

"We're in a very fortunate position of having many independent shops in Buckie. Not only does that provide us with good quality, unique shops and indeed some destination shops, but it gives us ones that are far more reliant on us as a community to support them.

"I hope they will all manage to open their doors again as we move out of Covid restrictions and that we all see the importance of us supporting them and shopping local. "

A total of 140 Semichem staff have now entered a formal consultation process. Management at Scotmid are exploring opportunities to redeploy as many as possible within its wider business.

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.

“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.”

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 Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north-east of England. Over the last three years, Semichem has invested £2.2 million in refitting stores and trialling a range of new retail concepts.

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