Leicester: One Year On

This weekend marks one year since the news broke of SPCK/SSG Leicester’s independence under a new name, Christian Resources:    

Congratulations to Peter Hebden and his team on making it this far: here’s wishing them every success for the future! I invited Peter to give us an update and perhaps offer some advice for anyone else seeking to strike out by themselves. He writes:

All the best stories begin with “once upon a time” and end with a “happy ending”. 

Once upon a time there was a Christian bookshop in Leicester trading under the name of SPCK. It was a kindly shop with lots of friends and neighbours.  Then one day there was a sudden whoosh as the wind of change blew away the cobwebs, some of the books, some of the staff, and even…….some of the traditional ways of doing things. SSGCT had arrived.

Principles and goals were challenged, even one’s raison d’être was examined and tested.  Many changes were promoted, many implemented, some refused (I hate wearing a tie). The results were of mixed value and after a year of frantic activity the whirlwind of SSGCT moved off to other shores.

What was left was renamed Christian Resources in an attempt to re-brand, broaden the stock range and concentrate on core customers. The rest of the world looked on in partial disbelief, finding it hard to accept that there may yet be a future for an independent bookshop. The future would lay in resourcing Christians with many things, the printed word accounting for perhaps only 55-60 % of sales.

We at Leicester have been fortunate to have an accommodating landlord, patient financial backers, (we thank God we did not turn to the banking system), and most importantly helpful suppliers. The landlords were able to offer accommodation with a short term ‘get out’ aspect and within a couple of weeks all the major suppliers offered credit facilities. These credit facilities were crucial in helping us to bring the stock of new books and products up to sensible trading levels. I can not stress enough the value in both financial and encouragement terms of credit facilities in those early days as we rushed headlong into Christmas.

There was much to organise in the first few weeks bearing in mind that the deal was not struck until the 15th of October, just 16 days to takeover day (and a week of that was spent on holiday in Turkey).

Here is a basic tick box list for anyone with a desire to ’step out of line’:

  • VAT REGISTRATION
  • PAYE REGISTRATION
  • BANK ACC. Paying in & cheque books
  • CREDIT CARD facility
  • TELEPHONE/INTERNET provision
  • SOFTWARE/HARDWARE
  • SERVICES, rates, electricity etc registration
  • ACCOUNTING procedures,
              Sales & purchase ledger systems
              Credit customer notifications
  • STAFF conditions of employment/contracts, H & S.

On reflection we are greatly blessed with the encouragement received from many quarters but take note you who may consider a similar step, the bottom line is that the customer is king. This means that if one doesn’t get the price ‘right’ then that good will which abounds on the first few weeks will evaporate as quick as the morning mist in spring. I have found  even the most loyal of customers don’t hesitate to use Amazon or go direct to a publisher or wholesaler if it suits. Remember nobody owes us a living, everybody has to find the best deal for themselves, not us.

As for a happy ending, well I am sure there will be one its just that I don’t know what it is yet, but I really do feel God will have a hand in it if I can just bring myself to let Him.

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