Author Archives: healingrain

CRE 2010 – will you be there?

Phelim McIntyre writes:

CRE will soon be upon us and it would be good to see those who can make it one or more days. The Tuesday is a FREE retailers/suppliers day – so if you can make it that day your are welcome to come. Book your free ticket here christianresourcestogether.co.uk/howtobookforretailersdaysandown.htm What is better your ticket is valid for all four days.

I will be there on the Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday (oh the joys of being in church leadership meaning one day is not enough).  So if people want to meet up let me know.

I would like to say that we could pop open the champaigne and celebrate the removal of the Brewers and their practices but I am not so sure. Certain parts of the Brewers Grimm’s empire were not taken over by the Charity Commission so like Arnie in the Terminator I have this awful feeling that they “will be back”.  But we can raise a glass to all those people who have kept the story alive and supported the victims of the Brewers from Dave Walker to the Bishop of Salisbury who stepped in to stop the Brewer’s taking over the bookshop at Sarum and Wells theological college to the people at the Church Times to the bloggers to those around the country who have kept us informed of what is going on – you know who you.  During war you can not give honours to intelligence agents and we have been in (and in someways are still in) that situation but that doesn’t stop us drinking to your health.

Phelim McIntyre

What is happening with the shops?

Phelim McIntyre writes:

OK – we have had movement with the SSG saga but I was asked a question by Clem Jackson of Christian Marketplace as to the number of shops still operating. The list on the Thirdspace website is as follows: Bradford, Canterbury, Chester, Chichester, Durham, Hereford, Manningham, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Poole, Salisbury, Truro, Winchester, Worcester, York. This list (though updated in January according to the website) is really inaccurate. So over to you – what is the latest at each shop if anything? Durham, Chichester, Chester are still open. Is the shop in the Bradford area actually the Bradford shop or the one in the church in Manningham?

The atmosphere at CRE/CBC #CBC09 #CRE09

Phelim McIntyre writes:

As some of you may be aware the Christian Resources Exhibition and the Christian Booksellers Convention were under the same roof. I had the joy of bumping into Dave Walker (of Cartoon Church), Clem from Christian Marketplace and many publishers and booksellers. So what was it like from an SPCK/SSG viewpoint? Putting aside that for many the combination of the two events was a failure there was a HUGE sense of relief. I have never been hugged or shaken by the hand by so many people.

The news of the industrial tribunials being sorted, marching orders at Durham and the Charity Commission acting is, as one person put it “the light at the end of a very long tunnel”. Yes there are more battles going on, some of which I can’t mention because silence is the better part of discretion – but I can say that the dam is about to break.

As someone who, with Dave W, Dave K, Matt W, Phil Groom, Singleblog and others (you know who you are) has been at the forefront of speaking with the press (I was one of the naughty people who sent documents to the papers when I was at SPCK), networking ex-staff, blogging and so on I have been asked was it worth it? The answer is yes. Justice must be done. So to all of you who have not been told this but have been campaigning – consider yourselves shaken by the hand and hugged.

Some one did suggest that we organise a firing squad for the Brewers Grimm but changed their mind as a firing squad would be too quick. So someone suggested that as they see us as heretics we treat them as heretics and burn them at the stake. I see some Brewer effegies this coming Novemeber.

The Church Times has reported the news here http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/75134. This is a subscriber only page this week but will probably be readable next week. Christian Marketplace will also have something soon.

Just a final word from someone at CRE/CBC. “Don’t give up until they (the Brewers) are finished”. As I said, more is happening which we hope to be able to blog soon.

Meeting September 10th – setting an agenda

Next Wednesday there is a meeting being held in London. Details of time and where are here https://spckssg.wordpress.com/diary/

What we need now though are two things: firstly I need to know you are coming. It is open to exSPCK/SSG staff (and current staff if you are willing to come) and those in the publishing/bookselling world. Other interested people can come but let me know please at spckrefugee@operamail.com

Secondly we need to get an agenda together. A lot has happened in the months since this meeting was called. The death of Steve Jeynes. The pension chaos. The petition concerning the Durham shop. The bankrupty case being thrown out. Shops opening in Cardiff and soon to open in Norwich and elsewhere. In all this how can we support each other beyond the blogs? How can we support those who want to start a bookshop to replace the old SPCK/SSG one? How can we provide emotional support for each other? How can we continue to make sure that something rises from the mass destruction caused by the Brewers? Again please let me know what you want discussed. The email to use is the same as above spckrefugee@operamail.com.

Phelim

From the Bookseller – Brewer defends SSG liquidation

From The Bookseller online:

Brewer defends SSG liquidation

Mark Brewer, head of the Christian bookshop chain St Stephen the Great, has explained his decision to file for protection from creditors in the US. In email correspondence with The Bookseller, Brewer said that “abysmal” Christmas sales last year meant that “by late spring, the chain was plainly insolvent”. Brewer said that he did not have enough money to file for insolvency in the UK.

Brothers Mark and Phil Brewer, who run the chain, told suppliers in June that SSG had filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. Houston Bankruptcy Court later converted this to Chapter 7, leaving the business in liquidation.

SSG was registered at Companies House in the UK, but Brewer said that the management of the company and its accounting support were based in Houston, Texas.

“This made bankruptcy in the US a viable alternative to a UK insolvency, and given the dollar-pound exchange rate, US bankruptcy was dramatically less expensive,” he said. “Candidly, the charity simply did not have the funds to institute an insolvency proceeding in England.”

In June, the trustee for the Chapter 7 liquidation, Randy W Williams filed a motion to dismiss the case. He said, “On its face, there is nothing to liquidate and nothing available to fund an investigation in the UK”. Brewer admitted that “due to the relatively small number of assets, the trustee did not feel that liquidation was worth his while”. The motion to dismiss is due to be ruled on in Houston today (Thursday, 28th August).

It is unclear what, if any, monies creditors will receive. Brewer declined to discuss what would happen to companies such as Marston or STL, which are owed money. He maintained that “this was a matter for the bankruptcy court”.

The Brewers took control of the former SPCK bookshops in October 2006, and closed at least six shops before the insolvency. Mark Brewer said that he “unintentionally” alienated staff with a new buying policy, which included a discontinuation of selling the Koran and an increase in the number of Orthodox materials sold. “[Staff] actively worked to prevent implementation of anything to do with change until the chain’s finances were too far gone for any change to have worked,” he said.

“I certainly share fault for this, mainly because I failed to muster the necessary support of the senior staff.”

Some of the chain is continuing to trade. The Brewers have registered the shops under a new trading company, ENC Shop Management, which is listed at Companies House.

(Reproduced here by permission)

Yet when the Carlisle shop closed Mark Brewer stated that all the shops were making a profit. Also notice that it is the staff’s fault for not obeying the demands from above. If people had just laid down and done what the Brewers wanted everything would be fine. But no mention is made of the unpaid bills to suppliers, unpaid rent or other financial mismanagement. I am too angry for words at the moment.

– Phelim McIntyre (Edited by Phil Groom)

Shop Locations

As of what I know to day this is the situation in the various cities with ex-SPCK Shops. Can people add any more?  Phelim

Chichester – running under Chichester Shop Management Company

Durham – running under Durham Cathedral Shop Management Company. Phil Brewer has been to shop but has avoided last two Dean and Chapter meetings.

Sheffield – shop closed and locks changed due to unpaid rent (reported on spckwatch’s blog on livejournal)

Hereford – fully independent

Leicester – fully independent

Worcester – appears to be open but no more details

Winchester – not sure whether this is independent or not

Lincoln – shop closed but gap filled by Unicorn Tree Books

York – shop closed but gap being filled by St Paul’s Multi Media

Birmingham – shop closed, part of gap filled by a market stall

Canterbury – closed

London – closed

Chester – ENC’s contact address but no knews of anyone is there to answer mail. Last I heard was that shop was open two days a weel.

Carlisle – as far as I am aware this shop is closed with the building back in the hands of the landlord (Cathedral)

Bristol – shop closed.

Newcastle – shop was being run by agency staff but no news as to whether this is still the case.

Fresh Thought About The September Meeting

In what now feels like the distant past I posted on here about a meeting that is being held in September between ex-SPCK/SSG Staff and suppliers/publishers. As I stated at the time no agenda had been set, and boy am I pleased about that.

The aim of the meeting was to see how publishers could:

  1. Help those who have left the chaos that is SSG and are looking at going independent
  2. Utilise the expertise that was SPCK Booksellers (one publisher spoke of not seeing this knowledge wasted).

Recent events, though, have made me think that the meeting may need to add a fresh focus. We have had the tragic death last month of Steve Jeynes, and we have also had the threats of the Brewers towards Dave Walker of Cartoon Church and this blog that led to Dave removing the SPCK/SSG related posts from the Cartoon Church Blog.

These two blogs have been one of the main ways that ex-staff can talk. With what has happened, and is still going on, how can we support each other? As the BT advert with Bob Hoskins said, “It’s good to talk”. How can we go about this? Do email me (Phelim) with your thoughts or if you are coming to the meeting at spckrefugee@operamail.com or post your comments here.