Following the closure of their last physical stores (Birmingham and York) in January 2014, Wesley Owen — once the UK’s largest chain of Christian bookshops — became an online only retailer until mid-2015, when all bookselling activities were transferred to their sister company, Authentic Media. The closure of wesleyowen.com took place quietly as part of a larger decision to transfer Authentic’s distribution services to Marston Book Services. All that now remains of the company is the following notice, referring customers to Authentic:
A Brief History…
In December 2009 IBS-STL UK, part of the USA based giant, Biblica, Wesley Owen’s parent company, was put into administration by Biblica, taking the entire STL UK edifice down with them, causing chaos within the UK Christian book trade and leaving massive debts in their wake. Several other companies stepped in from around the world in an attempt to rescue as many shops as possible:
Eight branches were taken over by Koorong, which also took over the Wesley Owen brand. Sadly, at the end of January 2012 the company announced that it would be abandoning the physical stores to focus on its online operations: Bookseller Report: All but one Wesley Owen Bookshop likely to close (UKCBD News, 31/1/2012).
The Bath, Bristol, Bromley and Derby branches all ceased trading during the first quarter of 2012; later in the year the Coleraine and Glasgow branches became part of the Faith Mission Bookshops group. Two branches — Birmingham (closure announced for late 2013) and York (closure announced for early 2014) — remained under the Wesley Owen banner until January 2014, when they too closed their doors for the last time: And then there were none: final day of trading for last Wesley Owen stores
Six branches were taken over by CLC, of which only four are still trading under the CLC name:
- Falkirk » Falkirk Christian Bookshop (ceased trading January 2015)
- Macclesfield » The Hope Centre
- Walsall » The Hub, Walsall (ceased trading October 2015)
- Woking » Origin Christian Books and Media
4. Nationwide Christian Trust/Living Oasis
The remaining branches did not find immediate buyers and ceased trading during January/February 2010. Most, however — listed below — were subsequently picked up in an ambitious rescue plan put forward by the Nationwide Christian Trust: Living Oasis. The first branch of Living Oasis opened in Harrogate on February 13th; another six branches opened during March and the rest, except Croydon (aborted Sept 2010), opened later in the year. Most (if not all) commenced operations under temporary leases as NCT sought more prominent premises more suited to fulfilling Living Oasis’ vision of providing “a Christian presence on our High Streets”.
Sadly, early in 2011 the Living Oasis project began to show signs of foundering, with five branches either closed or closing down during February and March. Plans to relocate and expand others, however, as part of a “Phase Two” development — Leeds and Liverpool in particular — appeared to be reaching completion but came unstuck when Nationwide Christian Trust declared insolvency in August 2011. All branches have subsequently ceased trading.
Reports Elsewhere | All Bookseller Reports tagged Living Oasis
NB: Due to third party website reconfigurations, some of the following links may no longer work.
- STL Distribution makes 30 redundant: Lisa Campbell, The Bookseller, 10/03/2011
- Five Living Oasis stores to close: Lisa Campbell, The Bookseller, 07/03/2011
- Nationwide Christian Trust puts faith in former Wesley Owen stores: Victoria Gallagher, The Bookseller, 11/08/2010
- The call goes out to keep Jesus on the High Street: Rebecca Paveley, The Times, 16/01/2010
WITH THE EXCEPTION of Weston-super-Mare and Watford (now trading independently as Life WsM and Storehouse Watford respectively), all remaining branches of Living Oasis ceased trading in August 2011 when parent company Nationwide Christian Trust entered administration: see Nationwide Christian Trust Enters Insolvency (UKCBD News, 4/8/2011) for more information.
As reported in an interview with Ray George in Christian Marketplace (March 2010), the following shops were taken on by Living Oasis in 2010; those struck through either closed down or were slated for closure in early 2011.
|Aberdeen Bedford Belfast Cheltenham Chester Croydon Edinburgh Harrogate Harrow Inverness||Leeds Liverpool Manchester Nottingham South Woodford Southampton Sutton Watford Weston-Super-Mare Worthing|
Living Oasis News & Notes (most recent first) | All posts tagged Living Oasis
- CLC v/s Living Oasis: The Mess in Inverness, 03/02/2011
- For I am ashamed of the Gospel? Concerns raised as Living Oasis declares plans to “de-Christianise” shop windows, 10/08/2010
- Living Oasis Update: Edinburgh opening imminent, Summer newsletter, Online ambitions and a DVD, 26/7/2010
- Living Oasis Croydon: Call for prayer as new lease is threatened, 3/7/2010
- Living Oasis Update: Croydon Branch Opening Soon! 29/5/2010
- Living Oasis Update: Croydon, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Worthing, 16/4/2010
- Shop Openings by the busload – and Day of Prayer gathers momentum, 05/03/2010
- Living Oasis: 20 Shops, Meetings and Openings, 02/03/2010
The follow branches do not appear to have found new owners and in the absence of any further information are presumed ceased trading:
- All posts filed under Wesley Owen and/or tagged Former Wesley Owen Bookshops
- Bookseller reports tagged ‘Wesley Owen’
- Facebook groups and pages
- Google: Living Oasis: News Search | Blog Search
- Google: Wesley Owen: News Search | Blog Search
- Twitter Search: Living Oasis | Wesley Owen
- UKCBD: Living Oasis: Head Office & List of Branches
- Wikio: Living Oasis News | Blogs
- Wikio: Wesley Owen News | Blogs