Christian Retailing

Christian Resources Together launched in U.K. Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Thursday, 14 January 2010 03:17 PM America/New_York

Retailers and suppliers rocked by the fall of the major player in the U.K. Christian products industry have been encouraged by efforts to increase cooperation and partnerships in the future.

More than 100 people gathered in London, Tuesday, despite poor winter travel conditions to hear about the launch of Christian Resources Together (CRT).

Although it had been in the works for some time, the formal announcement of the initiative--in the wake of IBS-STL UK's December sell-off of its distribution, retail and publishing divisions--"could not have been more timely," said coordinator Steve Briars.

As the national hub of the industry, IBS-STL UK's troubles in the past year disrupted many stores' business, and while some of its 40-strong Wesley Owen stores were purchased in the dismantling, the future of more than 20 remains in doubt.

A joint effort between retailer and supplier groups, CRT is to host a two-day industry retreat May 4 and 5. There are also plans for other training and trade events.

Though it would take some time for the dust to settle from the end of IBS-STL, "what may come out of the loss ... is a stronger industry, less reliant upon one significant organization, but more able to stand on its own," said Briars. "Working and supporting each other within the Christian trade has probably never been more important."

Tony Bronnimann, a director of the five-strong Quench chain of stores, said he was encouraged by the meeting, citing "a positive desire to work together amongst the existing individual groups."

Mark Fleeson, technical director of publisher Lindisfarne Scriptorium, said he had been encouraged by the CRT launch "because it was amazing to see people put prayer first and business second. People were happy to see something happening in such a key time of change in the U.K. Christian market."