Wesley Owen: 27 Christian Bookshops Wiped Off the Map

Now you see them, now you don’t: Christmas is over and 27 Christian bookshops have been unceremoniously wiped off the map. Officially only 26 shops have vanished: Biblica/IBS-STL UK operated 40 branches of Wesley Owen, of which 14 have been saved by Koorong and CLC. The figure of 27 derives from the 41 branches previously listed by Wesley Owen, of which the odd one out was Woking, run as a franchise (h/t ‘Spoiler of Mysteries’).

This is the Wesley Owen map as it stood on December 11th:

Wesley Owen Store Finder, as at 11 Dec 2009

Wesley Owen Store Finder, as at 11 Dec 2009

… and as it stands today:

Wesley Owen Store Finder Today

Wesley Owen Store Finder Today

Koorong, the new owners of the Wesley Owen brand and domain, wesleyowen.com, are, of course, quite right to update the store finder to show only their own stores, and no criticism of Koorong is either intended or implied by this post.

But what of Biblica, former owners of the 26 abandoned shops? As I write there is still no mention of this sorry episode on their current news page: it’s as if the shops — and more to the point, their staff — have been simply deleted from Biblica’s history.

With those 26 shops now in administration, I guess there is no formal or legal duty of care on Biblica’s part towards the business or employees that they have disowned. Given all that we have seen in the last few years, perhaps it is unrealistic of me to expect better from a Christian organisation … yet somehow I still find myself hoping for a little more integrity from Biblica, an indication that there is some sense of pastoral care, some sense of moral responsibility… that they will not simply turn their backs on their workers and walk away…

In the meantime, here’s where the disowned shops may be found: please continue to pray for their staff and for local church groups to catch the vision and seize the day. Click through the town name for the full address:

Branches in Administration
South Woodford

36 thoughts on “Wesley Owen: 27 Christian Bookshops Wiped Off the Map

  1. As we’ve had with St Stephen the Great and the Charity Commission, we always seem to get into a grey area with charities and their activities even though they have to produce Annual Reports the same as public companies.

  2. It’s interesting that many of the Wesley Owen bookshops now in administration were independents that sold out to STL (the goose with the golden eggs) to keep going. It’s a shame that they have been let down. Still find it hard to believe that we are blaming our old friend ‘the computer system’ In my company (PR) and at all levels the computer has not to be blamed.

  3. I may have all of this wrong, but, legally speaking, since Koorong have brought the Wesley Owen Brand, and Baker Tilly are trading the remainder of the stores, and IBS-STL (the UK charity) is being wound down, would it even be possible, legally , for Biblica to make mention of what are, in essence, someone elses businesses?

    Since Biblica continues to exist, but has no stake (legally) in the Wesley Owen brand, wouldn’t anything said be, potentially, libelous?

    Like I said, I could have things wrong, but I am having trouble seeing from what platform (except personal blogs, like this) any statement could be made, and what purpose they would serve.

    All they would be allowed to say, I would imagine would to repeat the line that the 26 stores are in administration (which they have done) and wish the staff well and reassure us they are praying for us (which, at least in my personal experience, they have done, personally, by telephone, from Keith Danby himself in our case.

    In some cases, what we want, deserve, and expect is an almost entirely different animal to what is possible or legal in these cases. Unfortunately, I suspect that this is one such case.

  4. Sorry Luke,

    but in this instance you do have it wrong – IBS-STL UK although a seperate legal entity and charity actually was a fully owned subsidiary holding of Biblica, along with all it’s subsidiary holdings and businesses ie Wesley Owen (which actually was a regsitered company and not a registered charity itself!) – therefore it is still within Biblica’s purview to report on the dealings – indeed in both their financial figures and records they will actaully have to report on it as part of their AGM reports and legal requirements as I understand it, even in regards to American Law which is now it’s main standing.

    Therefore there is no reason at all that they cannot now be making some sort of press release to clarify the factual situation as is and was, but certainly with regards to the shops in administration.
    If they were trying to hide under the we are Biblica not IBS-STL UK legal blanket(which, again let me be quite clear here and state I am quite sure they are not actaully doing) this would do nothing but tarnish the previously solid reputations of both charities in many peoples minds and outlooks, and on the longer terms this final damage would most heavily impact Biblica as they are the charity that seemingly goes forward into perpetuity.

    You are though correct in that anything they report would have to be accurate and with the clear report that until the 18th December & that post December 18th … etc etc etc.

    But though others have purchased the trading identities and branding from that date forward this does not nullify or idemnify the prior owners of anything preceding these purchases – thats what administration is about!

    Nor does it mean that the current owners are liable or responsible for anything going before these dates, as the new owners only purchased parts of the business and not the whole of the business, even though included in those purchases was the full rights to the branding and identities of the business, thus allowing them to trade from a recognisable name and continue with the goodwill and benefit as associated to those names.

    Therefore on one level the current owners may be best served by more Press Releases and information including factual and open accountings from Biblica to clarify and put to rest concerns and issues arising etc. but also so that the brand names and identities that they purchased with goodwill will be best served to the widest audience.

    This type of thing is standard to most purchases, or part purchases of pre-existing businesses.
    More so when aspects of the business/brand have been well known, and/or failing, or had some potential detriment made known/reported.
    It is something I had to deal with myself when I purchased part of a pre-exisiting business – in my case this was one that was still successfully tradng in another arena though and under another business name, but were moving out of the book trade – indeed in my case it became more beneficial to first incorporate a dual logo/name and then to change the name in full over time, thus enabling me to garner any goodwill associated with the business and it’s branding but also to clearly define and distance the business from that previously traded as needed.
    However I report this merely as an aide to highlight how things can sometimes work, not as a suggestion of what should be done.

    • Clearly your legal understanding is better than mine, but as i see it, it still doesn’t give Biblica much more freedom to do more than they already have. And while it is true, it doesn’t feature on the Biblica home site, we must also accept that, in the main, American businesses and companies tend to take the festive season much more seriously than we do here and nothing on the site has yet been updated, WO, STL-D etc are still listed as part of their ministry for example, and given that most web portals are not managed in house, this sort of quick turn around time, at christmas, when probably dealing with IT Dept’s, web hosts, etc who are not located at Biblica HQ, i do think we need to cut them at least a little slack.

      And, lets be honest, In the main, MOST british people aren’t going to biblica.com to find out news about their local WO Store, they will probably give them a call, or go to WO.com.

      And let’s be fair, IBS – STL, as well as the administrators, and all buyers have released a number of press releases, all of which have been entirely factual in nature… which seems to be some people’s problem.

      It is no secret that there are shops in administration, there is a press release discussed on this very site which says as much. They have offered support to staff in the same press release, as well as personally in many cases, and have, in spite of a few missteps in the last few weeks and months, always treated us staff well. Even at the worst of times, financially, payroll was ALWAYS the first money to be secured, and we were payed, by IBS-STL on Christmas eve for time worked!.

      I’m just not sure what more Phil and others want. Public apologies, as a staff member, i don’t want or need one, we’ve had personal apologies… More comment about their mistakes… as well as working at a branch in administration, i also work in a branch owned by Koorong (Walsall and Birmingham) and the last thing I want is for IBS-STL/Biblica to keep commenting on the past, i want to focus on the future, under Koorong.

      Koorong have been brilliant so far, and my opinions here are my own, not necessarily theirs, but my feeling is that if i was Koorong (or John Ritchie, or CLC or Kingsway) I think i would want to distance myself from the failures (as John Ritchie have already done) rather than continually have them brought to bare by the former owners.

      I also think it is worth noting again that between the end of IBS-STL and the new owners taking any part of the company, all of IBS-STL was in administration, even if only for a few minutes. In spite of what some of us think may have gone down, all deals were, ultimately, made with administrators, not IBS-STL.

      I don’t know if it is significant, but everything passed through the administrators, and nothing was purchased directly from IBS-STL/Biblica, and i suspect that complicates matters significantly for Biblica too.

      If i had just brought part of a company from the brink of failure, i honestly don’t think i would want anyone associated with the problems of the past commenting on my new business.

      All of the buyers are working hard to continue their respective parts of the businesses, and are, as far as I am aware, doing a fine job of it, given the circumstances, but I do not think it would be of any benefit to any of them right now if the ghost of IBS-STL kept rearing it’s head to make statements on their behalf.

      IBS-STL is ceasing to exist here in the UK for a reason, and there is a reason that no one company brought it whole.

      If IBS-STL/Biblica did make press releases, and as an observer of a number of these such things recently, I can’t recall a time when any former owners have done so beyond initial statements, I can guarantee that there would be a post here criticising them for doing so too.

      I still read this blog, and think a lot of what Phil has to say is very useful, helpful and more often than not fair and accurate, but i do feel this whole thing is quickly becoming any excuse to criticise things we can no longer change or affect. For example, it seems we can go from reading posts about how SAP is the devil and single handedly caused each and every one of the problems ever to befall any of us (maybe i exaggerate a little, but i think it is fair to say Phil was never a fan of SAP) to reading comments like “Sad to say, but I think Biblica needed a scapegoat… and it’s easier to blame the technology…” and i can’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, we are with the best will in the world, more interested in finding new ways to criticise the company more than we are looking to report the real tragedies here, like local bids being shunned by administrators (NOT IBS-STL) because of deals done in private.

      Perhaps, and in spite of our best intentions, we are no longer helping anyone by continuing to heap blame on a charity that most of us rely on (Let’s not forget that Biblica continue to do work that will affect us… the NIV for example) and does some really great work.

      I will come out on record once again to say that I, for one, am in the main, impressed, dare i say proud with the way most at IBS-STL/Biblica handled what has to be one of the most difficult jobs any of us could ever be asked to do. For most, and i am talking about the high-ups not just the labourers, this was more than a job, and. those i have worked with, have been some of the finest, most honourable business people i could hope to know, and will be sorely missed.

      • Like you, Luke, I too want to focus on the future — but not just the future under Koorong: my concern in this particular post is the fate of the 26 shops that Biblica have cut loose; and I think the fact that Biblica have allowed those shops to be simply wiped off the map is outrageous. I also find it outrageous that Biblica’s latest press release, issued Dec 4th — whilst the organisation was in the midst of divesting itself of its UK divisions — talks only of celebrations and makes no mention of the UK situation, as if these were merely little local difficulties that the rest of the organisation could afford to ignore or that its supporters didn’t (still don’t, apparently) need to know about.

        We appear to be dealing with a very unusual case of administration here: Keith Danby himself stated that the decision to sell off the business wasn’t forced by any banks; and Baker Tilly seem to have been appointed at Biblica’s own volition, not by the company’s creditors. We’re not dealing with a company that went bust but with a company that had the rug pulled out from under its feet.

        As for SAP, Luke: it wasn’t the software that was at fault but the implementation. It’s people who implement things: software doesn’t install itself (unless it’s a virus, of course, but that’s another story). No one said SAP was the devil; but it certainly took the devil’s share of the blame for IBS-STL UK’s woes, not so much from me as in the official press releases and subsequent reportage. My comment about Biblica needing a scapegoat is in response to a previous comment about blaming the computer system; and that, sadly, is precisely what we’ve seen here. It would be a tough call for someone to step forward and admit to screwing up this badly; very tough: much easier to blame the system. That’s all; and I’m not calling for someone to step forward now.

        What I would like to see, however, is Biblica showing some support for those it has set adrift. The UK press release before Christmas — evidently prepared on the Friday but withheld until the Monday — quite rightly makes much of the success side of the story, the 14 shops saved, the new ownership of STL and Authentic; but the 26 shops and their staff who were less fortunate are left unnamed. It is them I am now concerned about.

        This is not a success story, no matter how much better an outcome it may be than it could have been and no matter how positive a spin some may wish to put on it: it is a tragedy. Sure, it’s the festive season: great for those whose futures have been secured and for those in the USA whose positions were never under threat; but I think it would be a far greater tribute to the festive season — to the one who gave up his own security, who sacrificed his all to become one with us — for Biblica to ramp up the profile of these 26 shops and actively promote a search for new owners.

      • Hi David,

        Will email you prob. tomorrow now :0)
        I’ll be happy to help anyway I can.

        For anyone else out there, feel free to contact me directly.

        Contact details can be found on facebook group page: http://bit.ly/Z1Ig2
        (which is available to view even if your not on facebook).

        Feel free to friend me if you are on facebook: http://bit.ly/hsJIs

  5. OK – Luke has got it right, information given was that which legally could be issued and the administrators and the lawyers called the shots.

    Phil is also right – it is a tragedy for those who are left in shops that have been ‘wiped off the face of the map’. Some of them might still be able to do local deals – but many of the staff need help in this area. If you have set up your own shop, like Mel, then perhaps if you could make yourselves available for consultation that might help others to put together viable plans.

    Meanwhile, this is the 4th time I’ve been in this situation in bookselling and this was certainly NOT the messiest redundancy/potential redundancy I’ve been through.

  6. Hi Pax,

    I’ve continuously made the offer to be available to anyone interested in setting up their own business, I’ve put it in writing loads of times both on this blog, on face book walls & pages etc and on other blogs & sites all over the place.

    I am more than happy to help in anyway I can – even if it’s only to act as an encourager and try to motivate people to make the move and consider going it alone – as you well know ;0)

    That offer still stands and will continue to stand because I genuinely do believe there is hope for indie book businesses and Christian Booksellers – though it may be that whats needed is to look at new ways of doing old things!

    Given some of what Luke has said above and also said on a previous post (http://bit.ly/8W1DNv) that the Stock in those previous WO shops now in administration has already been sold and is actaully being traded for an unnamed third party, (& if true then does that equate to free staff and premises for the unnamed third party?) and that bids are being shunned by administrators (sounds so like Borders!).
    Then this is likely potentially making the start up in these shops harder as there will be no initial stock whilst accounts etc are set up, even if they can get their offers accepted, so then this may be time to really rethink how to do Christian Bookselling in these Towns & Cities.

    Perhaps really start afresh in new or more easily viable pastures (but take the trained staff with you – they are a potentially invaluable asset) – or better yet staff why don’t you start up as a cooperative, club together, if you move out of shop and into a market hall the initial outlay is actually quite small in terms of rent & overheads, and yes you’ll have to fund buying stock, but talk to suppliers and see if they can offer terms, or just start small and build up, there may also be grants available to some!
    I know some of you can feel the call – I know God is calling some of you to step out: Listen, be strong, have faith! (MN thank you for relaying your message to me all those years ago so that I realised what that itch was about).
    And don’t forget to go to your local press when you do it, they love good news & pheonix stories!

  7. And in all this debarcle at STL, what happened to Keith Danby? Has he just sailed off into the sunset?

  8. I have been very disappointed at some of the cynicism that appears on this blog at times, and language that appears to simply want to bludgeon the corpse over and over.
    However perhaps I can help some of you with some of the answers. Below are my perspectives and assumptions, they are opinions only, so please take them as such.

    1. Why did STL go into administration, in my opinion, the simple answer if they were not forced into administration seems to be lack of cash. Presumably this brought on the decision by the board that the business had ‘gone’ too far to be rescued through normal business means, and perhaps all other viable alternatives were exhausted.
    For instnce, when SAP went live, the problems that seem to occure almost immediately cost Kingsway the company that I am responsible for over £200,000 of budgeted sales income. This in November of 2008, that was cash that was needed to run Kingsway’s business not to mention create profit. It was cash that never entered our system and cash we therefore had to borrow, if Kingsway Lost £200k of sales, then you can bet that STL’s ‘lost’ income would have been in the million pound plus bracket. A business runs on cash, most of you as retailers know this, just as a car runs on gas, remove the cash and the system collapses.
    Why didn’t they borrow it? well maybe they couldn’t and as their cash dried up presumably the unpaid bills mounted, presumably product supply from those that supplied stopped, resulting in more lost sales, less cash etc……..it’s easy to see the conclusion.

    2. Why did Biblica not bail them out……who’s to say that Biblica hadn’t already put in significant amounts of cash already, SAP isn’t cheap and perhaps the Board of Trustees at Biblica decided that ‘rescuing’ the UK operation was not as high a priority as resourcing the third world, I have no idea how deep their pockets are nor the cost of their ministry aspirations, that they do not see the UK as a country that needs ‘ministry’ support is perhaps the sadness, for it surely does, several ministries and businesses here need the help of a donor base or volunteers just to keep going.

    3. Anyone who’s ever been involved in a bankruptcy, or been bankrupt will know how easy it is with hindsight to see how things could have been handled differently. STL is a huge organisation and as some have already suggested ‘getting the protocols right’ in such difficult circumstances isn’t easy. Having to observe the legalities and keep the staff informed and handle the stress and depression of it all, and be availble to handle any issues that might occur with the sale of parts of the business isn’t easy. It would tax the best of us.

    4.Why did some folks never get a prospectus……I’ve seen that mooted several times from the editor, the answer i guess is that Baker Tilly would only forward a prospectus to individuals that clearly had the ‘readdies’ to make a purchase, and trying to develop a ‘trade buyout’ while a noble thought would not have been seen as a serious proposal without significant available funds.

    5. Have Biblica abandoned those stores in administration? Well if entering administration is abandonment then you can accuse them of this, however as sad as it is Authentic books and music, STL distribution and the stores that were bought…….. were all headed for administration along with those stores that still have no purchaser, that some were purchased and some were not was never in Biblica’s hands that task was given to Baker Tilly, and going forward Biblica have no authority to sell or advertise for sale any business unit, only Baker Tilly can do this.

    6. That a business the size of STL can disappear is a shock to us all, but it simply highlights the fact that we live on very thin margins, that cash remains king, and the need for us all to pay our bills on a timely basis is important.
    I wonder how much is owed to the business in administration, and how much will be realised, perhaps there are significant retailers out there who still owe substantial amounts of money, I wonder how much of this was ‘overdue’ and if this was a contributing factor.

    Whatever the outcome, life has changed, for suppliers there will be a retail ‘hole’ of considerable size for some time to come, all of which means less sales, which in turn will put a strain on suppliers for whom the difference between red and black ink is marginal to say the least.

    While the earthquake may be over, the aftershocks may still cause considerable damage.

    Hope this helps………oh as for Keith Danby, well as far as I know Keith is still the global CEO of Biblica and is employed and answers to a US board, there are some of you who may have experience of US boards, how they operate and behave! so you will know how much fun he is having!

  9. Hi John,

    Thanks for your thoughts and opinions there, they are appreciated and it is always good to get a further opinion on a situation – especially one from a different perspective and from a base perhaps with a more attached overview.

    I agree with much of what you say, and by the way I am pretty darn sure that everyone commenting on this blog is overjoyed at the saving of jobs at the 14 shops, publishing houses and Warehouse.

    This I don’t think has ever been in any doubt – our concerns rest with the ‘unsaved’ (excuse me for the moment of levity there but I have little self control ;0)and seemingly lost in this particular situation. And yes I too agree with you that that the administration of IBS-STL UK is shocking and the actions and attitude of Biblica is indeed deeply sad in regards to this situation.

    You are right that as retailers those of us who have been commenting are very very aware of all the issues you raise in regards to lost income, lost sales and cash flow being essential.
    Yes our figures of loss may not look as grand as your 200k but then our scales of economies are different, so I would guess for most of us in the shops if we work it on a pro-rata basis its probably pretty comparative.

    Of course for most of us in the shops we did not have other avenues of trade viable purchase available for some of kingsways product which may otherwise have lessened the impact in this fiasco – and I had that problem again myself just this christmas as Oli can witness (though to be fair he did keep contact well in trying circumstances and I commend him highly for this).
    I am sure you will be pleased to know though that Kingsway didn’t loose the sale – I did when they aparently went direct through your website, despite me asking please could kingsway send me the items direct as kingsway had them listed on their direct sale website, not something that could be done apparently.

    Is this cynicism? possibly so – but I would say not unwarranted if so.
    But yes I do concede that I can be a bit doglike whilst I search for the virtue I know is in everything ;0)

    As someone that owes nothing to IBS-STL UK, I feel able to say that I’m pretty sure that throwing that one out there may be a tad unthoughtful given how much they might owe to many publishers and smaller suppliers, and given they have taken the adminstration route this may not ever be recovered in some instances.
    Of course also is the issue that in some circumstances in part their actions (ie the sap fiasco in which you mention the loss of supply and loss of sales associated etc) have caused the same problems for some retailers as they were faced with – ie cash flow issues and even facing the very real issue of potential administration or closure.
    Though you are right and this does not abrogate the responsibility of every business to not accrue debts it may be think it cannot pay and to pay the debts it has in a timely manner wherever humanly possible. – Would here be a good time to discuss parity of credit payment times, terms & discount structures across all elements of the trade and supply chains?

    So yes you are right to raise the impact this may in future have on suppliers – of course this balances the knife edge that the shops walk daily, especially with the suppliers/publishers doing so much more direct sale marketing and discounting in and to certain quarters.

    I would think that this situation really highlights this – after all how many shops have now gone, indies as well as chains now?
    There are reasons for this, yes, and perhaps serious questions need to be raised as to how we really came to be at this point and accept our shared responsibility for the state the trade is in.

    The truth is, as you highlight, without the shops the sales do drop, even with the alternative ways to market that are there, because the truth is most people don’t immediately think christian books and music if not confronted with it. Impulse buying is often less online – even with the few pages found for you to browse or the if you like this rec’s, it isnt the same as looking at the physical item – hence why Dixons ads target you looking at the physical thing and then buying it online.

    The sad thing is how many of my customers and your customers are doing that too – coming into my shop, looking, writing the isbns down, even getting me to look things up and/or make recommendations for them based on my knowledge etc and then saying thanks but they can get it cheaper direct from the publishers website, not necessarily eden or amazon! and there’s little I, or the other retailers, can do in that situation is there? Becuase on the whole there is no real way we can often match that – and certainly not on a regular basis which is what it is becoming.

    There are some positive suppliers out there that are working with us and really supporting us – perhaps here and now is where some of the rest need to start thinking about this, lets fill those holes, all the holes of all the shops that have gone, not just the potentially newest 26, but to do that we really do need publishers/producers/suppliers to work with us full on, perhaps here is where we start?

    I still hold hope, I still believe christian bookselling in real physical trade shops (or market hall stalls) is possible.

    John, you use the imagery of an earthquake and aftershocks – well lets use that to build on, make earthquake resistant buildings grow up in these disaster area’s – I’m thinking Taipei 101!

    With disaster can come the greatest moments of collaboration, of clear sightedness, of giving, action and team work possible.
    Out of disaster can come the greatest moments of creativity and inspiration that raises the bar to even higher and better levels – I think we can do this now too, but it has to be a collaborative effort, not something any of us can, or should, do alone.
    (actaully the six million dollar man is now slow running through my head http://bit.ly/8X1UCd “…Steve Austin: astronaut. A man barely alive…Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.” – just swap out the name and man etc and add in, well you know wht to add in!).

    you know I’m reminded that it takes a real disaster to save mankind and set them back on the right tracks, Noah and his flood, Moses and his exodus, and most importantly Jesus and his cross.

    But you know the one thing all of these things have in common? Community! coming together and working together as one, first where they are and then spreading out, but with the emphasis being on putting yourself out for your community and building them up in the face of disaster, and above all putting God at the heart and mind of all you do. So if we do this we can achieve a new greatness.
    We go local to go global, we work as a community and rebuild, we remember we are servants first for God and to each other. So i’m in – ?

  10. When it comes to publishers supporting the independant bookshops my top vote goes to Lion Hudson. If you are part of their Alliance scheme you get excellent trade terms, an annual stock swap scheme where you can send back any of their titles regardless of condition (they understand that if you are going to promote a book then you get it out of the box, get it to book agents, put it in the window, on the counter, on the shelves etc)in return for an order of greater value. This gives you great confidence in ordering titles knowing that you have a safety net. They also price their product extremely well across the 4 imprints (Lion, Candle, Monarch, Baker) so that you don’t feel that the book has been overpriced. As a consequence the books sell. I received some new paperback titles from one UK publisher last week that were huge (bigger than trade paperback) in size and I think were £11.99 each (and they wonder why I only buy one of each).
    Lion use Marston which provide a fast service and the only real drawback is that Marston won’t join Batch (despite numerous requests and pleas)
    When I went up to Carlisle in May I was amazed at the huge piles of boxes that were returns from Wesley Owen and Crown retailers for stuff that was regularly scaled out to them each month. Some retailers that you spoke to said that they sometimes didn’t even take it out of the box because it overwhelmed them. Meanwhile we would find that titles were out of stock (because they had been scaled out probably). So hopefully this will not happen with the new setup and Ritchie will work hard at being an excellent distributor

    • Have to admit Geoff, they were indeed top of my list for all the reasons you mention! Wish others would be so good.

      Also springing to mind was the great experiences I have had this year with Scripture Union going all out and being totally supportive and encouraging as well, especially in light of their own problems this year – though I do admit to being really concerned by the emphasis on going digital over print – but this aside their support and service has been great and worthy of mention.

      There are others too I have had good experience with, Most recently so springing to mind are Alban & DLT, but there are others also who have always been very supportive and great when approached directly and are always willing to help in my experience’s.

      However, yes Lion Hudson these days do seem to be top dog(cat??) when it comes to their support and initiative as demonstrated with the alliance programme :0)

  11. Received an encouraging letter this morning from CWR.
    Free carriage on regular standing orders.
    Increased return facility on dated notes from the Mar/Apr issue.
    Carriage free reduced to £25 trade value.
    Next day if ordered before 12 noon.
    Well done Mike Ashford and CWR. It is much appreciated.

  12. My son (Cheltenham) has not yet been given notice and nor has a change of trading name been advised although he does know that he has to complete the closing down sale this month (Jan).

    I run an engineering business rather than books – I look at what Baker-Tilly are doing and frankly they don’t seem to be following the correct path for administration under the laws of England & Wales. Offers for individual stores seem to be simply being turned away without serious consideration. Yet administrators have an obligation to maximise the recovery of monies in winding up a business.

    The problem with saying any of that is that by the time such actions are corrected through the legal process its usually too late.

    Melanie has it right that the shops are needed to keep the sales and without the shops Christian witness is diminished and sales for the distribution arms will continue the long slow decline. What is needed is Christian action to stop the decline particularly as Christian music and books are excluded from the national media that is the driving force for other commercial retail sales.

  13. Brilliant work on the shop pages and the RSS.

    Some information needs correcting: Ian Carrington is no longer manager of Wesley Owen Macclesfield (I am he) and Janet Crookes-Jones is no longer manager of Wesley Owen Manchester. Sadly, I cannot remember the name of the replacements other than Ken Somebody (Macc) and Mike Something-Or-Other (Manc) – so this comment is of limited use!

  14. Just for the record the manager of the Leeds store is Karen Spence. She is currently rounding up support to go independent, albeit in a less expensive but equally accessible location as the current shop. If anyone is interested in supporting this or offering any help just give her a ring at the shop. 0113 2458264.

  15. Having been out of ‘the trade’ for just over 5 years, I am just catching up with the news of STL. Mainly because the WO shop here in Nottingham is closing down.

    I have happy memories of leaving school and starting my career in what was Scripture Union bookshop in Leeds. Then moved to SU Manchester, then finally SU Cheltenham. All the shops were in different locations to where they are now.

    Good to see John Watkins’s name in this blog. It was his move from managing Cheltenham to go and open the then new shop in Liverpool that triggered my move from Manchester to Cheltenham.

    They really were happy days.

  16. Pingback: Stronger Together – Weaker Apart « UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog

  17. As is usual in so many cases, I understand that the Administrators are not keeping the remaining shops well informed of progress which is poor when staff are people with lives to plan and their customers also need to know.

  18. Precisely – someone I spoke to, who works for Wesley Owen, had found out more from the on-line “Bookseller” article than internally.

  19. I presume that Woking as a franchise will be able to go back to being an Indie. But what is happening to the Crown Retailers? Does anyone know if that scheme will continue?

  20. Well they have started to close two of the branches down. Brighton and Walsall have both gone. They are in discussion with someone for the rest of the branches

  21. Pingback: STL UK: Goodbye Crown Books, Hello Retail Partnership « UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog

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