Update, 30/11/2011, 5.30pm:
TMD’s Pete Barnsley has kindly responded with some points of clarification explaining how this situation came about:
Some Points of Clarification
LAST MONTH, Trust Media Distribution made a special point of reassuring retailers that their UK supplier review would involve no significant changes in the vital trading period before Christmas:
WEDNESDAY, 26 OCTOBER 2011
UK Wholesale Review – Christmas supply unaffected
Please note following yesterday’s announcement regarding our UK wholesale review, that there will be no significant changes to supply until the New Year and so Christmas supply will remain largely unaffected. We are committed to making changes to supply in the New Year ensuring minimal disruption and a high level of service during this period.
This week, that promise collapsed with an innocuously entitled post, UK supplier update | Order deadline extended | Stock Update, which gave retailers only three days notice that dues from seven major UK Christian publishers would be cancelled and no further orders would be accepted as from tomorrow, 1st December 2011:
At the start of the review it was our intention to continue with the supply of UK publishers through to the end of 2011, however, from 1st December 2011 we will no longer be supplying the following publishers to the trade: Scripture Union, CWR (including dated materials), Kevin Mayhew, IVP, Church House Publishing, St Andrew Press and SCM Canterbury Press. Pendings for these suppliers will be cancelled and orders placed after 1st December will not be fulfilled.
Whether the fault for this failure lies with TMD or the specific publishers concerned is a moot point: the disruption to trade that this inevitably causes could hardly have come at a worse time. Retailers, be aware, check your backorders, and order elsewhere.
Some Points of Clarification: Pete Barnsley Responds
Reason for the review
Over the past 18 months/two years there has been a significant paradigm shift in the UK Christian trade in terms of supply and sales of UK Wholesale. For Trust Media this has been a difficult area within the business and everything has changed: lower demand – part due to the recession and more significantly due to retailers going direct to the publisher (as you would expect), margins are tighter and therefore there’s a significant impact on gross profit. In many cases terms have altered and even reduced to a pro-forma basis. We wouldn’t expect a retailer to buy cash-up-front from us, and we have endeavoured to continue with supply as best we can on this basis, but we are no longer able to do so. Therefore we have undertaken this review, which is necessary to ensure continued improvement in our service to customers long-term.
There is never a good time to make changes, but these are necessary. Of the seven suppliers mentioned, five of these have not been available through Trust Media for many months, even longer in some cases. Both CWR and SU have recently taken the decision to alter supply from December 1st; unfortunately we have not been able to extend supply to January 1st, as originally anticipated.Our preference would be to make an announcement at the end of the review, as we’re still part way through, but we took the decision to give this update in order to give the retailer as much time as possible to make alternative arrangements so as to have as little negative impact on Christmas trading as possible.
We are continuing to supply where we have stock of the seven listed publishers but would recommend the retailer checks first and orders direct when necessary.