“SSG tribunal claims mount”

That’s the headline article on page 6 of today’s Bookseller, available in full online here.

The article gives a brief overview of the current situation and notes that, according to Usdaw’s Cherry Hamilton, more claims are “definitely on the way”.

The Brewers have declined to respond to repeated requests for comment from The Bookseller. Usdaw said that they also have not responded to the tribunal claims. “If a claim is undefended then the claimants automatically win so we could get a default judgment very quickly, ” said Hamilton.

Usdaw provide a snapshot of which shops are open:

Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Carlisle, Cardiff, Lincoln, London and Norwich are closed

Chester and Newcastle are closed but may open two days a week

Chichester, Durham, Hereford, Leicester (which is a franchise store), Truro and Winchester are open

Exeter and York will open two days a week

At Salisbury, all the store’s staff walked out this month, but future opening plans are unknown

At Sheffield, all staff members were dismissed in February, after which the store was reopened by agency staff. The shop apparently “looks empty” now but future plans are unknown

Worcester may open two days per week


34 responses to ““SSG tribunal claims mount”

  1. I will post whenever, USDAW sends out letters to staff. Those working for agencies should let us know which name appears on the payslip.


    “Leicester shop” is NOT, I REPEAT NOT, a franchise. We are completely INDEPENDENT. Please stop linking us SSGCT.

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  4. It is good news to hear Peter’s shop is truly independent, but to be fair it needs to stated that the round up of shops given in this post -that lists Leicester as a franchise – is the information that USDAW are working with and gave out to the Bookseller, and is the information that SSG are themselves perpetuating both on their websites and, as I understand it, in some legal documents as well. Peter – you would be best advised to contact these people as well and get them to put this right as well as this will then clear up the situation and put the shop properly in the clear and safe from any future problems that the actions of SSG etc may otherwise bring to him by default.
    Still good to know that Peter & Leicester is now fully independent of the Brewer bros. and SSG, and I am very sure that the shop is doing well as Peter has always been a good manager with a keen eye for business and a sharp sense managing success with a good outlook and understated sense of humour – Peter feel free to call anytime for a chat etc

  5. Phelim McIntyre

    Pete – so pleased to see you are independent even if 1)the SSG website says otherwise, 2)SSG is saying otherwise to USDAW et al, and 3) SSG can not spell Leicester.

  6. Well we’ve seen enough by now to know that truth and accuracy — whether that’s spelling or anything else — both seem to be fairly low on the SSG agenda…

  7. Now that SSG is in liquidation, you and your most of your readers must be elated . . . except whatever will you find to write about and who will you now slander?

  8. Interesting question there from Mark Brewer … especially as he uses the terms write and slander in the same sentence, thus seeming to infer the action of the one is the act of the other.

    However in answer to the first part of his statement I think it fair to say that pretty much everyone is anything but elated over the liquidation and the way in which it leaves so many innocent parties at great loss through no fault or actions of their own – indeed gutted and truamatised is how I know a number of people and their families are feeling over the news.

  9. justflyingkites

    Typical Brewer speak. Mark Brewer can you get it into your skull that people are mad at you because of what you have done to Christian Bookselling. Stop looking for somebody else to blame. You have refused to take advice from booksellers in your shops. You insist on knowing what everyone needs and when shoppers leave in their droves you find somebody else to blame. Maybe you can also tell us why the online website has changed so drastically. I thought you were Orthodox – never thought I’d find some titles on your site. Or maybe changing the online shopping site is just another bit of your red herring stuff, like starting new companies. It might sell well in your head – it reeks here.

  10. Phelim McIntyre

    Mark Brewer – SSG is in liquidation is not something to celebrate. The loss of jobs via email, the lack of payment of suuppliers and wages is not a reason for a party. But if SSG is in liquidation why have you your brother and Sandra started three new companies. Please tell us where you got the money from to start those when you can not afford not to go into liquidation? Also if we have either slandered or libeled you, you have legal redress. Do feel free to produce proof in a court of law of slander or libel.

  11. Pauline Edwards

    Mr Brewer, yes your right, i’m elated, over the moon over your liquidation. What goes around, comes around, welcome to the financial mess, you have put your workers in. We will not need to write about anyone else, you were unique, sacking workers by email. God will find some one to take over the bookshops, nothing is to big for God. If anyone wants to take over Birmingham, i will come and work for you.

  12. So put that in your pipe and smoke it Mr Brewer! Nothing is too big for God! Not even you!

  13. Pauline and Phelim,
    I am very sorry ( and believe me I really am very sorry about this!) to say that you miss the point of Mr Brewer having made ssg an LLC or LTD. By doing so it means Mr Brewers personal finances – which are many – are completely free of threat or debt.
    Liquidating SSG has really cost Mr Brewer very little especially as he got the shops and original stock for virtually nothing. yes the remaining assets will have to be sold off to pay off debts – but given most shops are leased or not strictly owned by them this reduces the amount that will be recouped and so it is very likely that the loosers here will be the publishers and staff who are owed money by them.
    For the Brewers it is likely to be business as usual with no real financial implications at all and even the ability remaining for them to set up new companies and continue doing what they were doing before.
    Is this right? no – but it is however the law.

  14. We all know that the law is an ass. That’s why so many of us are out of pocket while the Brewers continue to live comfortable lives. The system works for those who can play it. The only pressure that can be brought upon Mark, Phil and Sandra Brewer is moral pressure. All right that might not work with the Brewers (the comfortable rarely bother about morals) but surely some moral pressure could be put on those who still support them either through their silence or by openly giving them sanctuary. I doubt that the sanctuary knocker on the door of Durham Cathedral was meant for the likes of the Brewers.

  15. Phelim McIntyre

    me – the problem is SSG and SSG LLC are the same company. So while SSG LLC has gone bankrupt the wider SSG has not. Also, and I checked with a lawyer and an accountant about this, if the people who make one company bankrupt then start up another as trustees or directors under UK law they are responsible. In UK law it is the individual not the company that is made bankrupt. Also, if there is evidence of fraud (as is possible in this case) then the previous company being a Ltd or LLC gives little protection on the fraud issue. But as this area of law is complicated it will take a time to work out.

    Also, me, you sound as if you have had legal training and know company law. Is this true? If not where are you getting your facts from?

  16. Phelim,

    Yes individuals go bankrupt in this country (in the states they just use bankruptcy for everything – individual and corporate), Companies go into insolvency and liquidation.
    This is in fact what is being claimed by SSg.
    They are protected as individuals because they Limited their company/charity which means they have a limited personal liability – usually only £1 in this country.
    The issue of directors of another company being legally culpable is only an issue if wrongdoing is proved , or if as part of the bankruptcy/insolvency they are issued with an order that states they cannot be directors etc – usually this then lasts for a minimum of one year – otherwise there is no crossover as the companies are legally seperate entities – this is also likely a reason why they will have been registered abroad as opposed to over here!
    In an issue of Fraud there is no protection for a director as they can be and are legally responsible for the running of the company – Fraud is a criminal act, as opposed to a civil act like bankruptcy/insolvency and few people have protection from criminal proceedings. However this would not gain the people owed money much as it would likely be a prison sentence and fine etc.
    In regards to SSG and SSG LLC being one and the same or in fact seperate entities, this has yet to be proved/determined. They potentially maynot actaully be the same company, an
    example is PC World, Currys & Dixons – all are part of the same Holdings Group but each is a seperate subsidiary holding and registered company in its own right – they are not the same company. So if one went bakrupt the others would be fine and no recourse from them could be sought.
    If they are one and the same then the assets of SSG are all in liquidation, if they are seperate then it would be advised that each person who had dealings with them would need to look at their legal contracts and agreements and see with which company/charity they had been trading and to make apropriate applications to them! If SSG (the original one) was who you agreed terms with and you never accepted or were approached with other information on SSG LLC or LTD, then you may still have recourse to the viable arm of SSG.
    Also of course if the continuing issue of whether the US bankruptcy actaully has a legal standing in this country as yet – this is due to neither Companies House or the Charities Commission seeming to have been given official notification of these facts as yet.
    Obviously all of this is open to interpretation, and is currently being scrutinised by those with a much greater understanding of the individual dynamics than myself.

  17. Am I representing the first supplier to the former SPCK shops who has decided to make a comment on this blog? We are a Christian Charity who sold Christmas Cards and a few other Latin American Crafts to the shops last Autumn for which we have not been paid. Not a huge debt but significant to us! This site and the Cartoon Blog seems to eb the only place to find out what is going on with all this Bankruptcy and Liquidation nonsense. It’s about time the Brewers owned up to their total incompetence to run anything – including a bath!

  18. ToyboxColin – if SSG owe you money you should have received a letter from the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Southern District of Texas giving you details of a hearing on the 28 July. Case No 08-33689

    You might want to contact the bankruptcy trustee (the equivalent of a UK administrator) who goes by the name of Randy W Williams at Thompson & Knight LLP, Tel: 001 713 654 8111

    Randy (fab name!) is probably the person who keeps lists of organisations that the brothers owe money too.

    The only reason I know about all of this is because I’m being sent copies of all the court papers by mistake – it may be that your papers have also been sent to the wrong person by mistake.

    Nothing to be surprised by though…

  19. ToyboxColin — you are indeed, to the best of my knowledge, the first SPCK/SSG supplier to speak out publicly. Thank you for your forthrightness.

    I’ve said this before elsewhere, but I do think SPCK have some tough questions to face about the way they handed everything over to SSG. Simply wringing their hands and saying, “It’s nothing to do with us, they’re not our shops” — which is what they seem to be doing — really isn’t good enough (that said, there may, of course, be a lot going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of…).

  20. Phelim McIntyre

    Phil – there is lots going on behind the scenes that you, and many other people, are not aware of. SPCK ansd many suppliers have not spoken out, just as many ex-employees are keeping quiet, because of ongoing legal action. Hopefully soon this silence can be broken and people can know what is going on in the background.

    Toybox Colin – thank you for speaking out about how much SSG/ENC/SPCK Bookshops owes you. You are not alone in having a significant debt, how ever small or large and I hope justice is done.

  21. Dear Mark Brewer
    The 600+ people who filled Worcester Cathedral on Monday for the Thanksgiving Service following the funeral of Steve Jeynes were not elated. They wanted to give thanks for a wonderful life of Christian witness, for a dedicated Christian Bookseller who had brought many to faith and for a husband, father, friend who meant so much to them. They were shocked, saddened, angry, but they were not elated.

    The 100+ Christian Booksellers around the country who have had their careers, their ministries thrown in the gutter over the past year are not elated. They are upset, angry, struggling to rebuild their lives.

    The myriad suppliers, who have not been paid are not elated. They are downhearted, some made financially unstable, others have lost an integral outlet for their goods.

    The Christian communities which relied on their SPCK Bookshop as a resource centre for their mission and spiritual growth are not elated. Some, like Worcester, feel that one of their vital organs has been ripped out and stomped upon.

    What has happened to the SPCK/SSG Bookshops over the last 18 months has caused so much needless hurt, so much pain, so much impoverishment of certain areas of the Christian faith in the UK that it is impossible to feel elation over the ‘bankruptcy’ of SSG. Only relief that this whole sorry episode is drawing to a close.

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  23. Surprise, surprise………we’ve been paid IN FULL, including the Court Costs for filing a claim, direct from ENC in the USA! Wonder if other suppliers have???

  24. Had a document from the Trustee (guy handling the US Bankruptcy Petition) which basically says that he’s asking the US courts to chuck the whole case out. Reasons given include using wrong names on claim. All of the business being in the UK so any case should be dealt with in the UK jurisdiction, etc. I think Mark Brewer has been seen to be bad news by the US officials, and they want nothing to do with him!!

  25. ToyboxColin – this document is mentioned in both the Church Times and the Bookseller. The Church Times even gives the trustee’s contact details so people can get hold of the document if they wish.

    As things develop it will be reported on somewhere on the web.


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  28. It is refreshing to hear that some suppliers have been paid in full. Speaking personally, our Company has not been paid and we have supplied CDs in good faith to SSG last year. Unfortunately it would cost more than what we are owed to pursue a claim for the amount, but I do wish I could go into the shops and seize the relevant CDs. It now makes me very wary as a business and I do hope that others can also see this situation resolved. Thank you for all you do in keeping us informed, it would feel very lonely out there if these Blogs did not exist.

  29. Phelim McIntyre

    CMP – goods from Norwich are now at Chichester while those from Birmingham have been sent to Durham. I thought this type of moving of stock was illegal while claiming bankruptcy but it may be hard to find all your stock anyway.

  30. Thanks for the comment Phelim. I don’t suppose I would really go into the shops, they possibly are not open anyway! Fingers crossed for other suppliers / former employees who are also owed money.

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  34. RIP Peter Hebden.

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