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:
… and as it stands 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: