Wesley Owen and CLC: Looking to the future…

Wesley Owen

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

Wesley Owen Link

Wesley Owen Link

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)

14 thoughts on “Wesley Owen and CLC: Looking to the future…

  1. This is a comment specifically about CLC Wholesale. Hi Phil B, thanks for all that you are doing for the trade. My wife Jan always asks me why I don’t order more from CLC or think of you when I am trying to fulfill orders. My answer is that I would love to put more business your way but I find it too longwinded to find out if you have it in stock. The only real way of checking is to phone and check specific ISBNs and then compile an order and hope that the other items added to reach carriage paid are in stock.
    So is there any way that CLC could provide some form of accurate, instock, listing that is regularly updated. Even if this was a simple Excel spreadsheet emailed every week, preferably with stock quantities (or under ten or over ten copies)it would make it easy to check if you have it in stock, it would also show what else you have and it would ease the pressure on customer services. You could also email smaller Excel supplements when new stock arrives (or just highlight it in a different colour in the main sheet).
    Of course, you could also join Batch for electronic invoicing but lets just do things one step at a time.

    • Really fantastic to hear this great news from CLC UK, thanks Phil B for sharing this with us – it is totally appreciated and great news all in.

      Have to agree with Geoff though that a way to check stock and order would be brilliant.
      To be honest this also is one of the reasons that though setting up an account I haven’t really used it, these days I tend to need stock availability and look up pretty quick to win the sale ;0)
      So prefereably for me an online system would be the best solution – Perhaps signing up to pubeasy? that would be absolutely fantastic, Also would signing up to pubeasy not potentially open up the outreach of the market as well into many more general/indie stores as well, so balancing out any associated costs perhaps?
      If going the self online route could the base of clcbookshops.com not be used to do something wholesale oriented as well, perhaps with a trade login so as to stop the whole wheel having to be reinvented? and just add in ‘in stock’ tags on avaiable items. This would then serve a dual purpose to both trade and non-trade customers and still keep the costs down for CLC UK I would think.

      But to my way of thinking I do think that this is something that really needs to be considered to truly make clc wholesale a truly competative alternate wholesale choice on the whole.

      • Pubeasy would be one way but it is not going to solve the problem if you have to check every single ISBN. I find this a chore to do when using it for Marston or Bookpoint. However I do admit that I never use pubeasy to compile and place an order as that would take me far too long. Perhaps I am doing it wrong?

        • If you use PubEasy’s “ISBN Copy ‘n’ Paste” facility it’s very easy to search and place orders for multiple titles. I use it whenever I have several titles to order from any PubEasy publisher: one click of a button on my database exports the ISBNs & quantities required to the clipboard, then I go to the relevant PubEasy affiliate, select Place Orders >
          ISBN Copy ‘n’ Paste, paste it in, hit ‘Submit’, review the order, ‘Add to Shopping Cart’ and ‘Submit’ to confirm.

          That sounds much more complicated than it is: I’ll try to remember to take some screenshots next time I use it and post a PubEasy ‘how to’…

  2. Hi Phil, the name of your ‘contact’ (manager) for the (former) w.o. Liverpool store is extremely out of date! The manager is Anna Bunn, I myself was the manager after Andrew Stott, and I left w.o. in May 2009. Could you update it please? thanks!


  3. This is commendable on the part of CLC.

    I hope that there are no unmanageable tensions between paid/volunteer – having the models in different shops *may* help. It is encouraging that the model works elsewhere.

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  5. Thanks for the encouraging comments posted so far. Much appreciated.
    We are very conscious of our need for a trade website, both to reduce the amount of time spent on the phone and to offer better service to our present and potential customers. As an alternative to the phone, there is always email via enquiries AT clcwholesaleuk.com
    Dear ‘asingleblog’, please rephrase your question if what follows doesn’t provide the answer you are seeking.
    CLC has its doctrinal standards and therefore there are certain limitations as to what we stock. Other than that there are the usual limitations of resources (human, financial and physical), plus any existing contractual agreements between parties. OUr shop teams source stock from various suppliers and publishers, and our wholesale distribution list continues to grow. With regard to the latter, our problem is in informing our valued customers in a timely, efficient and effective manner re what is in stock and what is new, which brings us back to the first point: our need for a trade website.

  6. Guess we have the smallest Christian Bookshop in the UK (3.3mts x4.5mts) and it is always a pleasure to order from CLC, and
    despite the orders being small, always met with courtesy and kindness and speedy delivery.
    But, yes Phil(B) a wholesale ordering system
    would be excellent – are the costs prohibitive? (and I don’t mean a SAP System!)
    I sometimes go on to the CLC Books website to see if you stock the book I’m looking for-I’m not often disappointed.
    Such good news about the WO shops you have rescued.

    • Hi Number 62, thanks for the encouraging words. Pleased we serve you well.
      Please note that the clcbookshops.com website is retail, not trade, and is not operated from the warehouse. What you see on there does not mean we automatically distribute it.
      Re a trade website, our problem has more to do with the lack of anyone suitable to maintain and develop such a website than the finance to set it up (not that finance isn’t a problem!!) Setting a website up is one thing; maintaining it and updating it is quite another. And from our perspective, the ideal person for that role has the right skills, experience, vision, call and commitment, and is a volunteer for want of a better word (ie is part-supported by friends, family and churches, just as I am).
      As I wrote in an earlier post…. we still need those full time volunteers for a number of existing roles. And yes, they will need some personal financial and spiritual support……

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