ACCORDING TO A BOOKSELLER REPORT published this morning, all but one of the Wesley Owen bookshops now look set to close as the company focuses on its online trading rather than the bricks & mortar stores:
Bulk of Wesley Owen bookshops to close
31.01.12 | Lisa Campbell
Wesley Owen has announced it may close all but one of its chain of Christian bookshops, saying the bricks and mortar business has been overtaken by digital and online growth.
The chain closed its Bath and Bristol branches at the weekend, resulting in 18 job losses, and has told staff and suppliers it intends to “significantly reduce its high street presence.”
Currently 15 employees are in consultations about the future of their jobs and the company’s retail director, Steve Mitchell, told The Bookseller: “We think there will be one – but maybe two or three stores left.”
The report goes on to quote Steve as saying,
Making the decision to do this has been as hard as decisions get. It is partly to do with the economic position, but even if we had waited until the economy got better it is a brave man to bet against the online business which is so rapidly growing. We have seen our online business growing significantly – 3-400% in the last two years – and we recently started selling e-books and that has taken off rapidly too.
and concludes with the observation that “it is our view that the charity or independent model is now the best option to maintain physical Christian stores.”