At this stage we still have no clear information about the future of the abandoned branches of Wesley Owen beyond the administrators’ statements issued before Christmas that they intend to continue trading “for the foreseeable future”:
Cash told The Bookseller the remaining stores would “continue to trade for the foreseeable future.” He added: “I am hoping that there will be a solution for the majority of the 26 stores… there is a healthy degree of interest.”
However, a resolution is not expected until the second week of January at the earliest. Cash explained: “While 14 of the retail outlets are now being operated by CLC and Koorong, we are keen to explore interest in the remaining 26 stores with a view to securing a future in the medium to long term. Each of the stores are currently continuing to trade under our control.”
– From: Competitors save 14 Wesley Owen branches
The Bookseller, 21/12/2009
In an attempt to make it easier to keep track of any developments or concerns on a branch by branch basis, I have now set up a dedicated Wesley Owen section on this blog — with separate pages for each branch being added over the next few days — where comments, prayer requests and other information may be posted. You’ll find the link in the navigation bar, top-right on every page, between “Updates” and “What’s On” as shown in the screenshot here. Please feel free to take advantage of these pages, and encourage the staff at the branches to look in and post their own messages if they so wish.
Good news has emerged about those working at the branches taken on by CLC: thank you to Phil Burnham, CLC’s UK Director, who left the following comment on New Year’s Day, confirming that CLC UK has amended its constitution to allow it to employ people and that the Wesley Owen staff have been taken on under TUPE regulations:
Hello and a very blessed New Year to one and all. I came across this Blogsite a couple of weeks ago and it’s been an interesting read.
Yes, CLC is still out there and is very much alive. Booksellers need to know that we are in a position to help them with their supply chain difficulties. Indeed, many have already contacted us and are now enjoying the benefits. Among other things, we offer same day despatch, competitive terms and good service. To open a trade account, email accounts.received AT clcwholesaleuk.com for further information.
To reply to a point raised by Phil Groom on Dec.19 re CLC’s staffing policy in taking over six WO shops, yes, there has been a change. In fact a big change. It just so happens that one of the amendments to our Constitution this past spring was to enable employment… Hmmmm, did the Lord know something at the time that we did not?
Phil was right in his observation when he wrote that CLC UK does/did not employ its staff. This means we can keep more bookshops open on the high street, and we can support international literature initiatives. Re UK volunteer workers, while CLC can cover some costs, other support comes from…. wherever the Lord provides. Some of our shop closures in recent years have been due to the lack of personnel. Since fulltime recruits were still being noticed by their absence, provision was made within constitutional changes to be able to employ people just in case, while at the same time we have continued recruiting along traditional lines, ie via part-funded volunteers. Little did we know what was over the rise in the road.
We have been greatly saddened in recent years to see so many other shops closing down and we have felt powerless to step in when asked at various times if we could do something. But with the trickle suddenly becoming a torrent we saw the need to act. While respecting our traditions and our values, we simply could not sit back any longer and watch yet more Christian bookshops close down because CLC doesn’t pay its workers. CLC has ministries in 56 other countries and was an employer everywhere else except in the UK. Even CLC USA have some employees. Like our colleagues over the pond we now have a hybrid system comprising both supported and paid staff. We have always been just as missionary minded and sacrificial in our outlook in those nations where salaries are paid as we are here in the UK in order that our purpose statement can be fulfilled. In short, CLC is now an employer in the UK too by taking over shops that have employees in them. TUPE regulations prevail in this sort of scenario. There is no alternative.
CLC UK has taken a huge step in all this. And though it is one that raises a whole load of issues for CLC as a mission, for our individual members, and even perhaps for some of our supporters, the leadership have taken it in full confidence and assurance of faith that it is the right thing to do before God and His Church at this time.
By the way, we still need those full time volunteers previously alluded to for a number of existing roles. And yes, they will need some personal financial and spiritual support……..
For more information on CLC, including my email address, please go to http://www.clc.org.uk
Phil Burnham, Director, CLC International (UK)