Christian Resources Together: Last Few Days for Awards Nominations

ChristianResourcesTogether

ChristianResourcesTogether

Steve Briars of Christian Resources Together has issued a call for nominations for this year’s awards, which must be received by him — preferably by email to steve AT creonline.co.uk — no later than this Friday, 12th March 2010.

The awards, for Publisher of the Year, Card & Gift Supplier of the Year and Sales Representative of the Year, will be presented on Tuesday 4th May at the Stronger Together – Weaker Apart Retailers & Suppliers Retreat being held at the High Leigh Conference Centre.

Regrettably I can’t be there myself (midweek during LST term time is always difficult) but for those who do plan to attend, there’s still time to take advantage of the ‘early bird’ offer for Booksellers Association / Christian Suppliers Group members at £94 + VAT = £110.45 per person. The ‘early bird’ offer ends 19th March, after which everyone, BA/CSG member or otherwise, pays £104 + VAT = £122.20. Books may be exempt from VAT but, alas, we as booksellers are not: thank you, Gordon (and an aside for the organisers: I personally would always prefer to be quoted VAT-inclusive prices, please; much as it’s interesting to know how big a slice of the cake HMG are taking, what my budget has to account for is the price I must pay at the till).

Points to consider when making your awards nominations are:

Publisher / Card & Gift Supplier of the Year

  • Support to the retailer
  • Speed and efficiency of delivery
  • Quality of information
  • Marketing support
  • Customer relationship

Representative of the Year

  • Regularity of visits
  • General timekeeping
  • Product knowledge
  • Commitment to retail
  • Customer relationship

Winners will be selected on the basis of the number of votes cast, with adjudication by members of the Christian Resources Together Partnership (CRE, BACBG, CSG and Christian Marketplace)

Feel free to leave honorary nominations in the comments here, but please remember that for your nominations to count towards the CRT Awards, they must be emailed to steve AT creonline.co.uk by Friday of this week.

Speaking with my LST Bookshop Manager’s hat on (yes, the hat in my twitter profile pic), for Publisher of the Year I’m torn between IVP and Norwich Books & Music. I think on balance Norwich win as they not only provide trade ordering and stock availability information across their entire list via pubeasy.com but have upped their game considerably during the last few months, with 24 hour despatch now standard for trade orders placed before 12 noon. IVP, on the other hand, whilst continuing to provide a 24 hour despatch service, have remained static, let the side down with Adrian Warnock’s Raised With Christ, and still do not provide online stock availability or trade ordering. Sadly, neither organisation offers online invoice payments via batch.co.uk.

For Rep of the Year, I’m equally torn between CPR’s Raymond Witty and STL’s Roger Compton: both are worth more than their weight in gold and have been very helpful and supportive over the last year. Gentlemen, I thank you and take my hat off to you: you both deserve to win.

For Card & Gift Supplier, alas, I don’t do consistent enough trade with anyone to be able to give a fair assessment.

Who gets your votes, and why?

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11 thoughts on “Christian Resources Together: Last Few Days for Awards Nominations

  1. Well, seems we missed the official nominations but thought I’d share my two cents anyway.

    On the one hand, as a new shop, everyone has gone so far out of their way to make this work, it’s hard to single out individuals, so i will try to separate the excellent “restocking” packages everyone (and I really do mean everyone) have given us from the everyday dealings we should probably get used to over time.

    So, in spite of how well we have been treated during our restocking period, there are a few publishers who do seem to “go the extra mile”.

    In particular, I have been impressed by IVP, Lion Hudson and CWR. Coming from the world of Large Chain with WO to that of bit part player could have been a very jarring one, not only for our staff, but also for our customers. After all, how would they adjust from promotions every month to no promotions at all, what with our significantly diminished buying power.

    Well, thanks in no small part to these three, it hasn’t been a problem at all. In fact, in many ways, our promotions are better than ever, thanks to their respective stockist schemes.

    For me, the honor goes to Lion Hudson. Their new alliance scheme really does set the bar very high, in terms of discount, (which is higher, across the board, regardless of what is purchased than we got even as WO), no minimum orders and next day dispatch and outstanding SOR terms, it’s a tough combo to beat.

    CWR put up a good fight, and i particularly appreciate not having to pay for promotional items until AFTER they have sold, and IVP’s range, shipping speed and availability are very impressive, but both were let down by lack of online ordering, and a little by the terms on “non-promotion” books.

    I must confess, I was a little shocked by Phil’s selection of Norwich. It’s certainly not that anything they do is bad, on the contrary, they are quite good across the board… the problem is, a lot of people are quite good across the board… The old STL was good across the board until the final few months, but, really, they haven’t done anything that isn’t being done by someone else. They haven’t done anything to make me want to go to them above and beyond any other supplier, which the three i mentioned all have… perhaps it has more to do with our different client bases though.

    For card and gifts, it’s even tougher (unlike Phil, we do a roaring trade with a lot of card and gift suppliers). Special mention has to go to anyone who was able to supply us with easter and mothers day cards (such as Hughes and Coleman, and Teal), and our general suppliers (like Kevin Mayhew) who with no trading history, were able to get us credit accounts set up, and items shipped in less than a day in most cases. Thank You.

    However, the final nod (however controversially) has to go to CBC Distributors.

    This Catholic supplier from Ireland, who many of you may not have dealt with, have been one of our fastest selling suppliers. Most of their stuff sells equally as well to Catholic, protestant and “other” markets (including the lucrative “i’m not christian, but Rosemary beads are super cool” market).

    But the reason I am nominating them is simple. Price. They have the right idea. It’s not always particularly great quality stuff (though a lot of it is), and they don’t have any brilliant trade incentives or amazing online ordering systems (though their site has improved no end over the last few months), but the stuff they sell is cheap… REALLY cheap. Without putting to fine a point on it, we sell more CBC gifts than any other supplier, because they are amongst the cheapest items at retail that we sell, while at the same time having… well… frankly, the highest margins as well. And for this, we REALLY thank them. When you’re restocking an empty shop, suppliers like this are, quite literally, a God send. And in a world with ever decreasing margins, being able to make up some of your losses on these sort of goods really makes the difference.

    As for Rep of the year… Honestly, try as i might, I can’t separate how we have been treated so far from the “every day”. Each and every one of t hem has been truly invaluable to us. I can’t pick one over any other, because they have all been so amazingly helpful. Whether it is spending, literally, hours with us to make sure we’re stocked on time, coming over with less than 24 hours notice and getting items shipped in literally record times, or running the risk of a parking ticket to make time to pray with us before they leave, I honestly couldn’t pick one over any other.

    Thank you all so much

  2. Lol – here come the might size 5’s.

    Ok I have to say my publisher of the year is O-Books who have offered to give the same terms to indie bookshops as they do to Amazon – so that’s 50% across the board – that cannot fail but warrant them the best publisher badge to my way of thinking.
    After that would, as Luke has said, have to be Lion Hudson and their Alliance Scheme, good margins and good promotions and SOR terms make this a winner all round.

    After that any publisher that gives me 40% and more gets a more than honorable mention in my book.

    Sorry but I can’t support best publisher to any publisher these days that gives me 35% and below – so there goes SCM-Canterbury Phil (Norwich books isn’t a publisher they are a distributor, but CHP and DLT would still get a look in from me!) and IVP, that’s just a moderate publisher really on non promotional items.

    (Now I appreciate some places get given differing terms from publishers due to a number of factors so I can only work on what they offer either as declared standard terms to trade or what they have offered to me, therefore others opinions may be different due to this – and I welcome them shouting out in support of their publishers therefore!)

    Whats worse though is when some of those self same publishers that give such low margins are marketing directly to consumers with deals I pretty much can’t match in some instances due to the 35% and below they offer to me (and yes publisher’s you know exactly who you are). Then factor in the higher discounts they can give to internet suppliers, well then for me they are just poor publishers to my way of thinking in terms of trade/retailer support.

    Please note and lets make clear this is not about calibre of books published etc – many of the ‘poor publishers’ to my mind due to how they treat me in regards to trade do produce excellent material and top authors, but then so do O-Books and Lion Hudson etc who give me excellent terms, this is about how the publisher interacts at trade level.

    The bar has been set guys – and in some instances by failing to give me good margins directly you end up hurting both yourself and me.
    I might as well go direct to bertrams or gardners for convenience and get the books at the same discount you give me directly, or even consider going direct to the new wholesalers known as Bookdepository and Amazon, by publishers choice their prices are wholesale/trade prices or lower because publishers agree to the discounts demanded thus you have to give them the higher margin to keep stocking your book because you think they sell it so much better.
    Yet for a measly extra 5% minimum direct to me I would go direct to you and probably be inclined to buy more copies or widen the range and you would save what, at least 10% per book on terms, and even with administration costs factored in still come away with a saving of about 3.55% I estimate.

    Don’t say it can’t be done, O-books has done it, Lion Hudson have done it and a good number of other publishers do it too -lets at the least start the game with 40% if you want to be truly seen as a good publisher that supports the retailer.

    Hmm perhaps something to think about a little more hey guys?

    • As you say, Melanie, NBM are not a publisher — which is one of my reasons for nominating them: I think either more or broader categories for the awards are called for. Why do the CBC (or whatever we’re calling them) Awards disregard such an important part of the supply chain?

      • I think more categories, or at least adding wholesaler/distributor of the year.

        But then in that case my vote would probably be Gardners this year for being so pro-active when the ibs-stl issue was such an issue.

        If were looking for a more ‘Christian’ one then Marston Christian Services score pretty high with me, though NBM would get an honorable mention for upping their game and dropping the carriage charge as you have said.

      • To be honest, to my mind, there isn’t much difference, for me, between a “distributor” and a publisher.

        Wholesalers (Like STL or Gardners) are another matter, and are worthy of a separate mention, but for me, you can’t have a distributor without a publisher, and even those publishers who “self distribute” like (IVP, Kingsway, etc.) often tend to perform some form of distribution for someone else.

        Now I realise companies like “Marston” don’t really fit into either category, but to be fair, as great a job as Marston do, the terms you get are completely dependent upon the particular publisher, and not Marston.

        FedEX, Royal Mail, UPS etc, are also key parts of the supply chain, but to be fair, I don’t think any of us are suggesting we create an award for them.

        So if we’re talking about new or adjusted categories, I think, Distributors should continue to be lumped together with publishers, but i agree that there should be a new category for wholesalers. .

        Not that it really matters anyway. Awards and recognition is nice, but it’s not why any of us do this.

        • Erm Luke,
          Slight problems with the Distributor thing give what you say about Margins and Marston, because with NBM your margins are also set by the Publishers they distribute and not the distributor themselves. So there is a big difference between the individual publisher that sets the terms and arranges the promotions/consumer marketing for their books and the distributor that distributes the book for the publishers, even though that Distributor, as with NBM, may have set up arrangements with the individual publishers to share some cost burdens in terms of Rep forces etc.

  3. I think it is true, however, that a company can be a good publisher and a poor distributor, and that therefore from an award point of view the distinction needs to be made. There was a time a couple of years ago, for example, when IVP’s distribution operation had got in a mess and they were up for publisher of the year. I can’t remember whether they won it or not, but I would have had very mixed feelings if they had, because the award apppeared to cover the whole publisher/distributor spectrum. I think therefore there is a case for a separate award for quality distribution (which could, of course, include wholesalers).

    I’m glad to say IVP’s distribution has improved beyond recognition since that time – now pretty much 100% reliable, in my experience.

    • I think that it is for that reason that a distinction SHOULDN’T be made. If a company is self distributing (whether or not they act as distributors for other) like IVP or Norwich I don’t see that you can be an excellent publisher if i can’t get hold of your books (like kingsway right now for example) and similarly, you can have a very smart delivery business, but if i am never using you, because i get better terms elsewhere, it’s all for naught.

      It’s very easy to be a brilliant distributor on a small scale… the best i deal with would be local suppliers who self publish. I can call them at 4:30, and have it by the close of shop in many cases, but for me, it only works if the whole package is there. And for me, unfortunately, i can’t really separate Norwich and their admittedly quite good distribution from their parent companies decidedly average trade terms… after all, if all of us used them all of the time, would their distribution be as good?

      • In that case, how do you decide Publisher of the Year between say, Hodder, who outsource their distribution to Bookpoint, and IVP, who do their own? Should the distribution be a factor, and if so should Bookpoint’s performance be taken into account? My understanding has always been that this award is given for the quality of the books, and does not relate to distribution.

  4. While we are on the subject of ‘extra awards’, why stop at distributor/publisher etc? What about Sales Assistant of the year, or Volunteer of the Year? We all depend on these good folk to actually open the doors and somewhere (hopefully!) make some kind of contribution.

    My first nominee for this non-existent award would be dear Chrissie Gray, who has been a volunteer with us for some 25 years. And before you say “So what? give her a gold watch & get over it!”, Chrissie started with us AFTER SHE RETIRED from teaching special needs children. So you can start doing the arithmetic….. And she can give a lot of younger ones (like me!) a good run for our money in the way she copes with technology and the changes of retail.

  5. News is STL have made Roger Compton (‘worth more than his weight in gold’ ~ Phil Groom) redundant.
    ‘Trust Media’ (or STL as I will always call them!) have already airbrused him from the STL website. This is an incredibly poor decision (just as it was with STL’s Jonathan Paulton) and one which it”s hoped the Christian trade will vocalise on the STL blog and then vote with their feet as to where they place their orders from now on.

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