If you’re anything like me, you’ve no doubt been wondering how things are going for Wesley Owen’s survivors under their new Aussie owners, Koorong. So I put on my Aussie hat (made from genuine ’roo hide) to give myself an authentic Oz presence and invited the inimitable David Chant from Wesley Owen Birmingham to tell us all about it. He writes:
Thank you, Phil, for inviting me to tell the bookselling world all about our first 4 months under new ownership. In December, we were fortunate to be one of the 8 Wesley Owen stores to be bought by Koorong, the leading Australian Christian bookseller. All the changes in the trade have been well documented, so I will concentrate on how this has impacted upon one of the Big 8! From day one we were welcomed into the Koorong family by the key personnel. By January we had received phone calls from Australia, (most of which were made in the early hours of their morning), visitations by many, and regular emails that helped us with the transition from Wesley Owen to the Koorong way.
Birmingham branch was chosen to be to the IT hub for the group. Their IT guru based himself here for a number of weeks, setting up the PCs, and EPOS terminals. He then travelled England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, setting everything up. He finally left the UK after many weeks in the snowy UK – and had missed the Aussie summer!
The EPOS system is superb! We are only using a tiny part of what it is capable of at present, but that will soon change as new systems are introduced.
We recently received training from another of the jet-setters – and more are coming over shortly. We are taking in so much (and probably forgetting the majority of it!) at the moment, and sometimes go home in the evenings totally exhausted from all we have taken on board.
In recent weeks we have all received numerous pallets of books. About 200 boxes of lovely stock winged itself to us in April, and I cannot begin to tell you how marvelous it is to walk into a well stocked shop again. It has been quite a task manhandling so much stock; sorting, pricing and rearranging the shop to fit in all in. But how rewarding! For example, we now have a Bible section crammed with just about anything we are likely to be asked for. It’s been some time since I could say that!
The new Wesley Owen Books & Music membership scheme, website, and data base are now being built, so it won’t be long until we are well and truly inducted into the Koorong way.
Having been through such a transition before, (we had been an independent for 105 years before Wesley Owen took us over in 1997), some aspects haven’t been too big a shock to the system. In fact it has breathed new life and vigour into not only the shop, but also the staff.
We are being ably looked after by our UK based management, as well as the team from Sydney. It is great to have such a dedicated team watching over us.
Now the fun begins. We will be undertaking our first stocktake soon, and will no doubt be getting our branch budgets shortly. Honeymoon period over? 🙂
- Want to know more? Join the Wesley Owen Birmingham facebook group.