Wesley Owen

Q&A: What Happened to Wesley Owen? | Living Oasis
(updated 26/10/2015) Wesley Owen Books & Music

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:

Wesley Owen is no longer shipping orders from this website: website screenshot 25/10/2015

“Wesley Owen is no longer shipping orders from this website” (website screenshot 25/10/2015)

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:

1. Koorong

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 BathBristol, 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

2. CLC

Six branches were taken over by CLC, of which only four are still trading under the CLC name:

The Kingston-Upon-Thames branch ceased trading on the same day as Birmingham and York; Guildford ceased trading on 23rd May 2015.

3. Independents

Four branches — Falkirk, MacclesfieldWalsall and Woking — survived by trading independently:

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.

Further developments now seem unlikely, but if or when any new information emerges, details will be posted here under the Living Oasis and/or Wesley Owen tags as appropriate.


Reports Elsewhere | All Bookseller Reports tagged Living Oasis

NB: Due to third party website reconfigurations, some of the following links may no longer work.

Living Oasis


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.


Archived Notes

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

Ceased Trading?

The follow branches do not appear to have found new owners and in the absence of any further information are presumed ceased trading:

Useful Links…

32 thoughts on “Wesley Owen

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  9. Phil

    Just to let you know, some weeks after the event, that the Falkirk branch of Wesley Owen re-opened in February as Falkirk Christian Bookshop (an independent). In the same premises, being run by the manager of the former Wesley Owen with support from local Christians and churches and in the process of becoming a charitable trust. The website (in its infancy as yet) is http://www.falkirkchristianbookshop.co.uk and there is also a Facebook group up and running.

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  16. Just popped over to this site to get an update on the Living Oasis stores. I am really sad to hear that their valiant attempts to keep Christian Bookstores on the High Street is struggling.

    More fervent prayer required.

  17. LONG SINCE RETIRED Christian bookseller – and records – !!!
    It is time Joe Saint and the Christian public STOPPED looking for up to 99%
    off everything. I learned my business ethic from the Jewish community, and was taught that writer/composer/printer/studio/singer/retailer – were all fully entitled to a cut of a full retail price. or are they not?
    I was only able to keep trading in Christian product because it was heavily subsidised by far more profitable sides to the business.
    For goodness sake let the missionary minded bookseller eat !!

  18. I am glad to here that the old Wesley Owen stores are still out there, even though I know a few independent retailers have closed door due to the recession

    • Actually Davis there are only 8 of the old Wesley Owen’s out there, all the rest either closed two years ago now or are now CLC’s, and a few indies opened up to take the place of or take over the old Wesley Owens and are still trading – praise the lord.

  19. Sadly I went to Derby today to look for a christian shop (Wesley Owen)
    but didn’t find one, I guess this is just another slide down the hill on the christainy side. I am very sorry about this.

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  21. Pingback: And then there were none: final day of trading for last Wesley Owen stores | The Christian Bookshops Blog

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