Wesley Owen: Excerpt from Press Release

Robin Parry has posted the following excerpt from a press release issued on Friday 18/12/2009:

Authentic Book Publishing (including Paternoster)and 8 Wesley Owen Stores (Bath Birmingham, Bristol, Bromley, Coleraine, Derby, Glasgow and York) have been sold to Koorong, which is owned by the Bootes family. Based in Sydney, Koorong has 18 stores operating successfully throughout Australia. It has purchased all of the Authentic and Paternoster intellectual property and author contracts, the freehold properties in Glasgow and York, the Wesley Owen trading name, and the domain name, wesleyowen.com. They plan to continue to operate from the Milton Keynes area.

From: Press Release: Paternoster’s future Secured, Robin Parry, 20/12/2009
[Update: Link removed: Robin’s post appears to have been taken down;
the full press release is now available.]

17 thoughts on “Wesley Owen: Excerpt from Press Release

  1. Well good to get some sort of official confirmation of the rumours, but just as a matter of interest where was this press release released given none of the press or other reportage base seem to have got hold of it?
    Scratching my head in puzzlement and bewilderment at this one, but still glad to have confirmation from an official source at last on at least one of the better aspects of this of this still sad story.
    Thanks Robin for the blog, and thanks phil for the blog of Robins blog :0)

  2. Well, that’s interesting- that particular entry on the blog seems to have disappeared…link broken, and entering Robin’s homepage reveals- nothing! Wonder why it’s been taken down…..?

  3. Yes, I’m sure you would all love to know more. So would most of the staff! Most of us have honoured the confidentiality of the announcements made, and those who have ‘blown the gaff’ and added to the wild and pointless speculation on numerous blogs have made life all the harder for the majority whose livelihood is very uncertain.

    • anon, with all due respect, do you not think it was somewhat surreal of your erstwhile employers to give their staff their redundancy notices at 5.35pm on Friday then expect them to sit on it until today so that said employers could then present it as a neatly packaged success story to the outside world?

      Trying to enforce confidentiality upon people whose livelihoods you’ve just pulled the plug on is completely outrageous.

      The full press release is now out: Wesley Owen: Expressions of Interest in Remaining Stores Welcomed

      • Phil: If you can’t get the facts straight it would be better to shut up! None of the staff has been given a redundancy notice – while that may indeed follow, it will be for the Administrator to do.
        The ‘erstwhile employer’ along with the new owners were all bound by confidentiality agreements – without which the sale of the business would not have been possible. Keith has been as open as possible (in his own words telling as much, to as many people, as soon as possible) throughout these difficult weeks. The Carlisle warehouse staff were told (truthfully) at 11am on Friday that there was no concrete news but that progress towards a sale was well advanced. The company was placed into administration at around 4pm on Friday – not ideal timing, but these things happen. Half the Wesley Owen shops are closed on Monday, and so the whole process would be still in limbo if the announcement had been delayed. Above all (and however abrupt the Administrator’s messages) I would still rather hear about my future from the people who have some control over it than from ill-considered and inaccurate speculation and rumour on the blogosphere.

        • Anon, you are being very rude. Phil has been decent in his communications and not been simply gossiping – i see much truth in it and i too am in the company. i am also telling people i am being made redundant – shops are closing after all (regardless of hope of local buyers!) If a blog annoys you so much it is best not to read it or comment – its rude to tell someone to shut up.

        • Thanks Elizabeth.

          Anon – if you can point me to any factual errors in my reporting, I’ll be happy to correct them and apologise.

          Perhaps technically you haven’t been given a redundancy notice — but your colleagues who have been in touch with me and who have been courageous enough to speak out certainly feel like that’s what they’ve been given. To me, that counts for far more than a technicality. As for Keith’s communications: I’ve seen copies of some of his memos: there’s much more I could have posted if I were of a mind to stir things up; my reporting here is far from “ill-considered and inaccurate speculation and rumour”.

          I too would have preferred to have seen all staff clearly communicated with throughout this process: that quite evidently hasn’t happened. My view is that your employers had a duty of care to ensure that all of you were kept fully up to speed with developments, and they failed in that. The press release should have been concurrent with staff notifications, not left until 48 hours later; and senior staff should have been on duty over the weekend to address rising concerns — publicly if necessary.

          To those who spoke out: I salute you.

        • redundancy notices were served to staff at carlisle today on the same day that the press release seemed to suggest that this would not be the case

        • Really very sorry to hear that Ryan. I hold out some hope this is a technical exercise so that John Ritchie can re-employ many of the same staff without the burden of taking over existing contracts, future redundancies, etc. I hope…

        • @Phil. Your reporting has been excellent. So good to have a place for free exchange of news and views, carefully moderated by you. I think your anonymous contributor was perhaps simply frustrated by the whole situation.

  4. I can’t reply to Anon correctly on the thread provided. I think that I can read the anger and frustration. I do not think that Anon is being rude at all. These are difficult times and thankfully this blog has provided Anon with some outlet.

  5. I’m an employee of one of the wesley owen branches that has gone into administration. While I understand anon’s frustration, I have really valued these blogs and the support given on them. I want to say a huge thank you to all those who have offered their support and prayers! This is a tough time, and these situations are always messy, but i truly believe that all have acted in what they believed to be the best interests of the majority. I too found myself talking out of bitterness about losing my job, and for that i’m sorry but we now have to look to the future and trust in God, and those he to whom he has given the ability and vision to keep the ministry of Christian retail on the high street!

  6. Hamish, thanks for your comment. Some of you with long memories will recall that in 2003 a BBC report on the existence (or not) of weapons of mass destruction and their consequences led to the suicide of an arms control inspector and a “palace revolution” within the BBC. The truth may never be fully known, but the point is that unverified reports can cost livelihoods and even lives. Phil, I apologise for saying your facts are incorrect: the point is that other people’s unmoderated contributions to your blog are inaccurate and begin to develop a life of their own. You ask me to point to examples – here are a couple to be going on with:
    1. On your own blog (but with links here), Eric Barratt commented on 17/12 “from start to finish the staff have been lied to by Danby”; and in a following comment alleged the staff in Carlisle were being forced to work without pay.
    2. In your initial response to my comment you say “it was somewhat surreal of your erstwhile employers to give their staff their redundancy notices at 5.35pm on Friday”. Elizabeth tackles me for my immoderate language (for which I repent) but then says “i am also telling people i am being made redundant” – well Elizabeth, maybe you will be but it hasn’t happened yet, and if you don’t think it can be avoided then why do we bother praying about this or anything else? And then up pops Ryan at 6:20pm yesterday with the staggering statement that “redundancy notices were served to staff at carlisle today”.
    For the record, the staff salaries have been processed and will all be paid before Christmas, and neither I nor any of my colleagues I have spoken to (a lot of them!) has been given a redundancy notice.
    Apologies for going on at length. I shall now attempt to follow Elizabeth’s advice and refrain from reading -and commenting on- blogs!

    • Thanks anon, but please don’t leave just yet: if/when people post incorrect or potentially misleading info, it’s important for the record to be set straight. So please do keep an eye on things and feel welcome to drop in with your responses.

      In both the instances you cite, however, I think it comes down to a question of perception: eric felt that he was being lied to and evidently didn’t believe that he was going to be paid — I’m sure he’s as pleased as anyone to be proved wrong on that front! And again, on the redundancy notice issue, people feel like that’s what they’ve been given: given the circumstances, I’d say that’s understandable.

      Nonetheless, I’ll contact ryan for clarification, and post a link from eric’s comment to this thread.

      • Now I think that I understand where anon is coming from. I say again anon – I did not think that you were being rude or that you were shooting the messenger. Like Phil, I think that you should continue commenting. Believe me, I’ve been in hot water before for comments that I’ve posted. It hasn’t stopped me.

  7. There has been so many inaccuracies about WO in this sad story, it’s motives, it’s actions, what it has been allowed to do by it parent company IBS-STL UK.

    From contacts I have in Carlisle, I hear that on Friday Keith Danby told the staff that nothing was going to happen, but during the afternoon the situation changed. The company filed for administration, which has to be before the court closed at 4pm. Then the sales to the various other parties took place. At that point WO was no longer in control, the timing and wording would have been down to the administrator, Baker Tilly.

    The sale of the shops to the various parties was after that. When the sales were completed then the stores were emailed immediately. This meant that the group of stores which didnt have buyers were emailed at just after 5.30pm. So the stores knew within 5 mins of the sale that it had happened. Yes it was Friday after the shops had closed, it was awful, and I hear that the offices were pretty empty with just some mgmt left watching their friends & colleagues shop be closed.

    Do I think they wanted this…no. Do I think could have changed how it happened…no. Are there questions behind the decisions IBS-STL made that led to the problems…absolutely yes.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all the staff going thru such a difficult time.

    Christian bookselling is going thru a huge shift, in fact all bookselling, just ask the borders booksellers.

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