The credit crunch and serious technical problems have combined to drive Christian book and Bible charity IBS-STL to look for a buyer or go under.
IBS-STL, owner of Christian bookshops nationally such as Wesley Owen, has been forced by financial problems to appoint mid-market specialist and administrator Baker Tilly Corporate Finance LLP to pursue the sale of its operations.
The recession was already biting book sales, but a new SAP computer system, which should have been integrated seamlessly in October 2008, failed to work properly. This resulted in shops being unable to place orders or deal with excess stock, while the distribution houses supplying printed material and other services were unable to deal with the supply chain issues that were caused. With stores and consumers being unable to order books, the company haemorrhaged cash as customers went elsewhere.
Several distributors and suppliers to IBS-STL shops and outlets have yet to be paid for goods and services. With debts mounting, the company has had to announce its exit from the business. If a buyer is not found, the company will go into receivership, resulting in the closure of many bookshops.
The company’s financial woes may stretch further back, as several prime store locations have already been vacated to inject money into the business. The prestigious Wigmore Street Wesley Owen store, in London’s West End, closed in 2007, and no replacement premises were found in the near vicinity.
Late last year, IBS-STL UK, which was founded in 1962, announced a special task force of experts who have been in constant dialogue with its suppliers and bankers, as well as engaging restructuring and business process consultants to try to resolve the systems and financial challenges.
IBS-STL UK has three trading divisions: Authentic Media, a book and music publisher; STL Distribution; and Wesley Owen Books and Music. The company is part of Biblica, a Bible ministry serving more than one hundred countries with books, Bibles and other Christian resources.
A statement from Biblica said that the planned sale of the UK operations would not impact its other global operations, and donor funds supporting Biblica’s worldwide outreach ministries would not be affected.