Tag 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).

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 


Hodgson Elkington Flyer originally downloaded from
Thanks to UTB for posting the link that led me to this on Dave Walker’s shop round up page.