Christian Retailing

IBS-STL UK sale details announced Print Email
Written by Staff   
Sunday, 20 December 2009 11:00 PM America/New_York

IBS-STL UK has announced new ownership for its troubled retail, distribution and publishing divisions.

Eight of the stores in the Wesley Owen chain—the largest in the country—have been bought by Australian retail group, Koorong, with another six taken on by CLC International (UK). Some of the remaining 26 stores may continue under ownership by local groups.

STL Distribution, the main supply hub for Christian retail in the U.K., has been purchased by John Ritchie Ltd., a subsidiary of The Lord's Work Trust based in Kilmarnock, Scotland. The operation will continue under the STL Distribution name.

Koorong has also taken over Authentic Book Publishing, while Authentic Music has been bought by Kingsway Communications.

IBS-STL UK is to be wound up, as no one wants to take over responsibility for the charity. Details of the break-up sale were disclosed today, with IBS-STL UK chief executive Keith Danby saying that he was "delighted" with the development. "I could not have imagined five weeks ago such a positive outcome." he said.

With 500 people employed across the three divisions, IBS-STL UK said that "a large number of jobs" had been secured by the deals. In addition, there were "ongoing discussions with a number of local groups interested in retaining their local Christian bookshop.

"This may take some time to process. In the meantime the administrators are continuing to trade from each of the 26 remaining stores."

IBS-STL UK put its interests up for sale in November following "a succession of financial problems" that included the failed implementation of a new computer system. With the charity's pivotal position, the move prompted widespread concern about its impact on the rest of the industry. Suppliers and retailers are due to meet in London next month for talks about the future of the industry.