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On the brink again

Wesley Owen store set to close

The future of Christian retail in Derby is once again uncertain, after the owners of Wesley Owen announced they are to pull the plug on most of
their stores.

Back in December 2009, a number of the chain (including Derby’s branch) were bought by Australian company Koorong, after Wesley Owen encountered financial difficulties. The Derby store has always been profitable, but the Koorong business model has proved unable to sustain the eight stores they purchased. Now, with only just over a month’s public notice, most branches are set to close.

Koorong will continue to trade as a web based mail order business using the Wesley Owen name. This will be run from the Birmingham store, which will remain open for the time being. All the others stores will close unless local buyers can be found (the future of the York store is as yet undecided and as they own the building, there is a possibility that it might be retained by Koorong).

The company is not going into liquidation; all bills will be paid and all the stores will continue to trade normally until they close. Thus although stock levels are declining, they are still able to obtain all customer and church special orders as normal. Staff are advising that people order goods as soon as possible, although orders that do not arrive by 3rd March (when the shop is due to close) will be supplied to customers from Birmingham by post.

Having talked to a number of parties, there has been substantial interest from one local Christian group to run a bookstore in Derby, and negotiations are under way at present. As things stand, this is unlikely to be in their current Queen Street premises, but could well be very close by. Look out in future articles for further news.

Derby store manager Peter Goddard is keen that a solution is found, citing the value of the venture as more than just simply retail: “We have always endeavoured to be both a Christian witness on the High Street and a resource to the local church. As there has been a Christian bookshop in Derby for the last 200 years, it would be a pity if this facility was now lost.”

See March Update >>

 

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From Derbyshire Church, Issue 123
The Wesley Owen Derby store
The Wesley Owen Derby store