Category Archives: Lincoln

Employment Tribunal in Lincolnshire Echo

Matt Wardman writes:

Further developments in the Employment Tribunal cases between ex-staff of the SPCK Bookshops and the Society of Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (plus two further Brewer run businesses entities by which the staff may or may not have been employed depending on what the Tribunal Judge decides was the most likely sequence of events in the business-entity tango during 2007 and 2008).

Anyway, this is how the Lincolnshire Echo reported it:

Bookstore closure legal action date set

Legal action against an American company which owned the SPCK chain of bookstores, including a Lincoln branch, will start in May next year.

A preliminary hearing into industrial action will be held between May 11 and 13.

Four staff at the SPCK Christian bookshop in Sincil Street, which closed in March, have filed claims for unfair dismissal against the shop’s owner, American charity the St Stephen the Great Trust.

The trust, run by Texan brothers Philip and Mark Brewer, has been listed for bankruptcy in the US.

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw is acting on behalf of former SPCK staff in Lincoln and several other branches including those in York and Norwich.

Click here!Usdaw spokesman Cherry Hamilton said: “The preliminary hearing will decide who owned SPCK at the time.”

The Brewer brothers are in dispute with the union over who was the legal owner of the chain, she added.

The preliminary hearing will involve three test cases. The results will affect other claimants, said Ms Hamilton.

The hearing will be held in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

(If you are thinking of buying a book in the Sincil Street shop – don’t bother as it has gone. Buy it here instead at Unicorn Tree Books. I don’t know what a Unicorn Tree is either – a tree with a single corn, perhaps? Ask them for me and let us know below).

SPCK or SSG? Bookshop Photocall

Updated 20th Sept 2008

Earlier this month Matt Wills posted photos of the Winchester and Salisbury branches, still decked out in their SPCK colours and signage almost two years on from the handover. More to the point, it’s now almost a year since SPCK withdrew the licence to trade under the SPCK name:

SPCK Trustees' Report and Accounts, Year Ended 30 April 2008

Annual Report 2008

SSG (the former SPCK Bookshops)  

In November 2007, SPCK withdrew the licence granted to Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust to use our name in relation to the Bookshops in view of their failure to abide by the terms of our agreement. It has proved a very difficult and distressing year for the shops and staff, and the process has involved us in a considerable amount of activity. There are a number of significant legal issues between SPCK and SSGCT that have not been resolved at the year end.

SPCK Trustees’ Report and Accounts, Year Ended 30 April 2008 (pdf, 944kb)

Not wishing to be outdone, it seems, Mark Brewer put his own spin on the story: it wasn’t so much a case of SPCK withdrawing the licence but of SSG feeling uncomfortable with SPCK’s theology:

Book chain drops SPCK name

Bookseller, 07.11.07: Book chain drops SPCK name

Mark Brewer said that “with more and more SPCK [published] books carrying a decidedly ‘liberal’ agenda rather than traditional Christian values, [SSG] feel the time has come to distance themselves from SPCK”.

The Bookseller, 7th Nov 2007

Being a man of his word, of course, Mark immediately sent out a team of shopfitters and signwriters to dismantle all remaining vestiges of SSG’s association with SPCK. In fact, so worried was he by the possibility of SSG’s good name being tainted by association with SPCK that he immediately discontinued SSG’s use of the spckonline.com domain and rebranded the entire enterprise Third Space Books

That’s the fantasy version, by the way: the reality, as many readers will be only too painfully aware, proved a little different. Mark’s grasp of “traditional Christian values” (complicated things like honesty, integrity and paying your workers and suppliers, for instance) were evidently a bit much for an “exceptionally well trained” lawyer from Brewer & Pritchard to get to grips with…

Here, A-Z by location, to help illustrate that reality, we present Matt’s photos together with a few others from around the country, all pictures taken this year. If you click through the pictures to the original posts you’ll find most of the photographers asking much the same question: why are (or were, as the case may be) the shops still trading under the SPCK name so long after the licence was withdrawn and so long after Mark Brewer himself declared that he wanted to disassociate SSG from SPCK?

Birmingham

Birmingham, September 2008, courtesy of Pauline Edwards.

Birmingham, September 2008, courtesy of Pauline Edwards.

Pauline has posted more photos in facebook, but you’ll need to be logged in to facebook to see them…

Cambridge

Cambridge, 17th Feb 2008, photo by Jeremy (blog.parsonses.co.uk), retrieved from Dave Walker's blog as reposted at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com

Cambridge, 17th Feb 2008, photo by Jeremy (blog.parsonses.co.uk), retrieved from DW

For some more recent Cambridge photos, SPCK signage cleared but SPCK/SSG carrier bags evidently in use (albeit as rubbish bags!) see Shame and Disgrace: St Stephen the Great, Cambridge

Canterbury

Canterbury, 11th Feb 2008, photo by Dave Walker (retrieved from his blog, reposted at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com)

Canterbury, 11th Feb 2008, photo by Dave Walker (retrieved from his blog and reposted at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com)

Chester

 

Chester, 20th June 2008

Chester, 20th June 2008, photo by Peter Owen (with apologies to Peter for the delay in adding this)

Exeter

 

Exeter, June 2008, courtesy of Neil Denham

Exeter, June 2008, courtesy of Neil Denham (with apologies to Neil for the delay in adding this!)

the Exeter shop stripped bare, 19/09/2008, courtesy once again of Neil Denham

And so it ends: the Exeter shop stripped bare, 19/09/2008, courtesy once again of Neil Denham

For more photos showing the now empty shelves — and an excerpt from an email describing what happened — see Neil’s report, SPCK Bookshop Exeter – R.I.P.

Lincoln

Lincoln, June 2008

Lincoln, June 2008, photographer unknown

Picture from Hodgson Elkington’s flyer advertising the premises to let.

Salisbury

Salisbury, 2nd Sept 2008

Salisbury, 2nd Sept 2008, photo by Matt Wills, A very ordinary title for a blog...

Winchester

 

Winchester, 31st August 2008

Winchester, 31st August 2008, photo by Matt Wills, A very ordinary title for a blog...

Worcester

 

SPCK Worcester, 26th July 2008

Worcester, 26th July 2008, photo by Doug Chaplin, MetaCatholic

York

 

Photo by Richard and Gill, Flickr

York, 22nd May 2008, photo by Richard and Gill, Flickr

York, 9th July 2008, photo by Peter Owen (with apologies to Peter for the delay in adding this)

York, 9th July 2008, photo by Peter Owen (with apologies to Peter for the delay in adding this)

 
Thanks to those concerned for permission to reuse the photos here. Any others out there? Please either send them in or point me towards where they’re posted to help complete the picture. Pictures taken this year, please.

– Phil Groom. Posted 08/09/2008; updated 20/09/2008.

30a Sincil Street, RIP

Estate Agent's Flyer for the former SPCK, Lincoln.Don’t quite know why, since as far as I remember I’ve never been there, but somehow today it struck me as unbearably sad to see the stripped-out windows of the former Sincil Street SPCK Lincoln shop in this estate agent’s flyer (zoomed in shot of the shop front further down).

I guess what struck me was the hardened finality of it as the culmination of the Brewers’ betrayal  — I can think of no other word for it — of SPCK’s trust in handing the shops over to them, of the utter failure of SSG to live up to even their own expectations.

It prompted me to look back at the October 2006 Press Release, still available on the SSG website as I write, but also available as a pdf here (200kb)

Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust and SPCK share a strong commitment to communicate the richness of the Christian Faith. Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust intend to employ a vigorous marketing strategy for the SPCK Bookshops. “People in our stressful, modern age, care deeply about spirituality and long for a deeper faith. SPCK Bookshops will offer a primary solution to these questions of faith” said Mark Brewer, Chairman of Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust, in a press release accompanying the transaction.  “SPCK will continue into its fourth century with its shops as places where all people, Christian or otherwise, are welcome and given the chance to widen their spiritual horizons.”

“We are delighted to have found partners with a similarly strong vision and a determination to invest in the mission of presenting the Christian message imaginatively and effectively in an attractive environment”, commented SPCK’s new Chairman, Bishop Michael Perham in the same press release.

Under the new arrangements, SPCK Bookshops will continue to serve the broad and diverse SPCK customer base, and expanding the products that it offers those customers. Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust will also place a major emphasis in online marketing at http://www.spckonline.com, utilising the internet and harnessing the market power and presence of the venerable SPCK and its 308 year-long history in the U.K.

In this way we believe the Bookshops will be both maintained and strengthened, remaining broad and looking ambitiously to a growing future.

We believe that this is good news for the whole Christian community. 

If the Brewers had followed through on that initial commitment to remain broad in their outlook — “to communicate the richness of the Christian Faith”, developing the shops “as places where all people, Christian or otherwise, are welcome and given the chance to widen their spiritual horizons” — then it would, indeed, have been “good news for the whole Christian community”, then perhaps we might not have come to this present pass.

SPCK, 30a Sincil Street, LincolnAs things have emerged, however, it seems that we can only wonder, watch and weep for what has been lost.

Or is that really all we can do? Even as I write 30a Sincil Street, RIP, I am reminded that the letters RIP have more than one meaning: Resurrection in Progress! If you visit Lincoln, be sure to go a little further along Sincil Street to the Central Market where you’ll find that miracle in progress as Lincoln is Saved by a Unicorn! 

SPCK/SSG may be over and done in Lincoln, but Christian bookselling is alive and kicking: long may it continue.

Full details of Unicorn Tree Books below.



Unicorn Tree Books 
35-40 Central Market 
Sincil Street 
Lincoln LN5 7ET  

 

Phone: 01522 525557 
Fax: 01522 830896 

Websites 
unicorntreebooks.blogspot.com/ 
www.lincolncentralmarket.co.uk/page_1158437533734.html 
www.browseawhilebooks.co.uk


 
Hodgson Elkington Flyer originally downloaded from
http://www.hodelk.co.uk/commercial/brochures/CP7383.pdf
Thanks to UTB for posting the link that led me to this on Dave Walker’s shop round up page.