Daily Archives: December 14, 2008

Focus on Chichester Shop Finances and questionable Saint Stephen the Great payments

Matt Wardman writes:

Recently I posted a detailed article about questionable financial transactions in the operation of the former SPCK bookshop chain by its new owners, with a particular focus on the bookshop at Durham Cathedral – now run by a newly created (11/3/2008) company called “Durham Cathedral Shop Management Limited” (DCSML).

Questionable Dealings in Durham

In the Durham case, a debt of £80,000-£110,000 (depending on the exchange rate – it is $165,000+) to the new company was built up over a mere three month by the previous organisation – Society of Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. J Mark Brewer attempted to put SSGCT into Bankruptcy in Texas on 19 June 2008 (that is the date when the “Statement of Financial Affairs” was filed) with this debt to his new company unpaid.

In addition to the new company at Durham, another company was created on the same day to run the former SPCK Bookshop in Chichester, which is on a zero-rent 50 year lease from the Diocese of Chichester.

And also in Chichester

The Brothers Grim appear to have pulled exactly the same stunt in Chichester, for a smaller sum. Here is the snippet from the SSG Bankruptcy Schedule of Debtors Continuation 2 (page 61):


The principle is exactly the same as at Durham, this document shows an outstanding debt of $35844.10 (18,000 ukp at 1:2 exchange rate) owed to the Chichester Shop Management Co. Here are the company details:

Company Number: FC028291


Remember, the company to which this debt was owed only came into existence 11 weeks before the debtor filed for Bankruptcy.

So, repeating my previous incredulity:

how did the Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSGCT) manage to build up a debt to the new company running the Chichester Shop on this scale between 11 March 2008 when that company was created, and June 4th 2008 or thereabouts when J Mark Brewer attempted to put the Charitable Trust itself into Bankruptcy in Texas?

Or, to take a view from the other side, resources or assets equivalent to $35,844.10 were transferred out to SSGCT at a time when past suppliers were simply . not . being . paid.

And what were the ethics and business practices involved?

And why did this transfer – like the Durham one – involve the soon to be bankrupt SSGCT (and anyone who has read the Bankruptcy Documents will know that they would take weeks to prepare)?

And that is all without even thinking about asking why another $75,000 (documented in the article linked above) was transferred out of SSGCT 48 hours before it was made Bankrupt into another Brewer directed organisation, when preparation for the impending bankruptcy would be well under way?

Listen to the noise from my mind: Boggle. Boggle. Boggle.

The SPCK mission society who used to be associated with the bookshop chain which includes the Chichester Bookshop is no longer involved in any way, apart from in the Legal Action sense. Nothing in this article reflects on SPCK.