Back in January, John Gaines asked:
I presume that Woking as a franchise will be able to go back to being an Indie. But what is happening to the Crown Retailers? Does anyone know if that scheme will continue?
The good news is that Woking’s former Wesley Owen franchise has indeed rebranded as an indie— Origin Christian Books & Media — and if their facebook and twitter presence are anything to go by, they seem to be doing well (although a few more twitter followers might encourage them).
As far as I’m aware, however, nothing more has been stated publicly about the Crown Books partnership: it seems to have been allowed to quietly fade away. If you go there today all you’ll find is a simple holding page with a message to say that orders placed before the end of May will be fulfilled subject to stock availability: otherwise it’s a case of watch this space and — commendably — a note saying “To purchase Christian products, please visit your local Christian retailer.”
Even better, if I may offer a suggestion, a link to the UK Christian Bookshops Directory might help those who don’t know where to find their local Christian retailer. Anyone wishing to link is very welcome to lift code for text links, buttons or banners from the UKCBD Link to Us page: please let me know if you do this — I’ll gladly reciprocate where appropriate.
So what happened the Crown Books scheme? After consultations with the scheme’s members, the new STL realised that it simply wasn’t working to the benefit of both parties: a new scheme was needed that all retailers could be a part of; and that scheme is the recently launched STL Distribution Retail Partner programme.
Most Christian retailers should have received full details of the new programme: if not, you can download the brochure here (pdf, 766kb). STL describe the programme as offering:
- Consolidated ordering, supply (one order, one delivery, one invoice)
- Broad Promotional Programme
- Regular Stock Re-fresh
- Preferential trading terms
- Stock Management (Synergi)
- Personnel support (From the STL Distribution team)
Personally I remain unconvinced by the “one order, one delivery, one invoice” mantra: desirable as that may be, given (for example) IVP’s reluctance to sign up to a wholesale agreement with STL and the ongoing limited availability of much product beyond the more pop-level evangelical range, it still feels a long way off for me at LST.
STL tell me they’ve had an encouraging response so far. How has it been for you? Have you joined? If not, why not? Whether you wish to comment here or offer feedback to STL privately, the more feedback we can give them, the better they can fine-tune the programme to ensure that it does meet our needs. The old has gone, the new has come and we are indeed Stronger Together, Weaker Apart. My personal thanks to the team at STL for all their efforts to work with us in our ministry.