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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Message from Keith Danby

Dear Customer,

Since resuming leadership responsibility for IBS-STL UK three months ago, I have had opportunity to meet with customers, suppliers and many of our staff team, which has given me a fuller understanding of the events of 2008, and the challenges and opportunities that face IBS-STL UK in particular, and our trade in general.

There is no doubt that 2008 was a difficult year for IBS-STL UK. In common with most other organisations, we were adversely affected by the economic downturn, which is likely to continue throughout much of the current year and beyond. The effect of the downturn was compounded by the difficulties we encountered with the implementation of the new computer system in October, which did not go as smoothly as we would have liked and, indeed, caused problems for our suppliers and customers. Once again I apologise for the frustration experienced during this time and the disruption to business.

However, I believe the investment we have made over recent years in our infrastructure - additional bulk warehousing space and our new IT system - will deliver a stable platform for future growth and more efficient operations when we emerge from the present recession. We have made significant improvements in our service levels, however, there are still issues to be resolved with the new IT system. I can give assurance that the resolution of outstanding issues is a high priority for us, and all available resources are being employed to address these issues.

I can also re-assure you that IBS-STL UK has benefited from being part of a wider global family, and that resources have been used to ensure our financial base remains secure, enabling us to maximise opportunities to benefit the Christian Retail trade in the UK and overseas.

For these reasons, I am convinced that IBS-STL has a significant role to play in the life of the Christian Retail and Charity sector in the UK and, from conversations that I have had with retailers; I believe the trade recognises the need for IBS-STL UK to operate efficiently and effectively in serving the needs of publishers and retailers alike.

One of the important issues I have been giving considerable thought to since returning to the CEO role, is in the area of organisational structure. It is even more important in these challenging economic times that we adopt a structure that will enable us to respond best to opportunities as they arise, and that customers, suppliers and our people understand how best to relate to our organisation. I believe we have many talented and experienced managers in our organisation, people who have served on both sides of the counter and have an in depth understanding of our industry. Even though these longstanding industry leaders have had a really tough few months, they remain determined and motivated to serve our trade. I have, however, taken the opportunity to streamline the Senior Management team, so that I have six direct reports; each with responsibility for key activities as follows:

1. David Young, General Manager and Director of HR. As I will be overseas for up to 50% of my time, carrying out my responsibilities as Global CEO for the wider IBS-STL worldwide activities, I have asked David to co-ordinate day to day operations in the UK, and to liaise closely with me to ensure I am kept informed of key issues. David has been with the ministry for the last 18 years, thinks strategically, and has a thorough knowledge of all aspects of our operations.

2. Steve Apted joined last summer to carry out a review of our existing supply chain activities across the global organisation. He has subsequently been appointed Director of Supply Chain and Distribution for the UK. Steve has over 25 years’ experience in this field. Product availability is a key requirement for customers, and the reporting tools within SAP allows a thorough review of this area to take place to ensure we optimise our stock holdings. Steve will have responsibility for Buying, Data, Account Management, Warehouse and Customer Services. Andy Moraitis, Chief Buyer, and Gary Dewhurst, Senior Account Manager, will report directly to Steve. June Archer, Customer Services Manager, Neil McLeod, Warehouse Manager, and Andrew Walker, Data Manager, will report to Mick Goodman, Director of Operations, who in turn will report to Steve Apted.

3. Andrew Clyde, Director of IT. Andrew has been involved in the ministry since 1997. He is an outstanding business analyst and, although his main role is now to head up the IT team in North America, he has returned to the UK for the next financial year, and he will lead the IT team here and seek to resolve our integration issues. As well as assuming responsibility for all strategic and operational issues within IT, Andrew will oversee the SAP Development work.

4. Ric Jaques, Director of Finance. Ric is another longstanding servant of the UK ministry, having joined in 1993, and he will continue to have overall responsibility for financial reporting, managing the charity’s cash flow and charity law governance issues

5. Steve Mitchell in the role of Director of UK Retail Trade. Steve joined the organisation in 2001 having managed an independent retail store for a number of years. He has been responsible for Wesley Owen Stores for the last seven years. His new role will now draw together all UK retail functions, which comprise Wesley Owen, the CBC trade, business development, marketing and category management. The category management role includes analysing sales data with the aim of helping retailers grow their businesses through a better understanding of demand for product. Mark Hurley, in the key role of Business Development Director, who has been asked to focus his efforts on developing new business initiatives, Pete Barnsley, Marketing Director, Richard McChesney, National Retail Development Manager, Ruth Wallis, Wesley Owen Operations Manager, Rachel Franklin and Janet Crooks-Jones, Category Managers, will all report to Steve and form part of his retail facing team.

6. Gareth Russell, MD of Authentic. Gareth will continue to lead Authentic Media having joined the organisation in 2003 as A&R Manager, before moving for wider role and experience as Commercial Director in STL OM Books India. He is passionate about Christian Media resources, and he is keen to see the Christian products get wider exposure in multi-channels in the UK.

There is one further change taking place within the management structure of IBS-STL UK. After seven years as Managing Director, Malcolm Stockdale is moving out of Wesley Owen to pioneer a new role. He has always been a keen advocate of internet trading and building new types of relationships with churches and para-church organisations, so he is heading up a new joint venture project in which IBS-STL UK will partner with a Christian web company to bring these opportunities together. Malcolm will serve as Managing Director and still be part of the wider IBS-STL UK family and I am sure he will bring energy and creativity to this new role.

I can assure you that this management team is fully committed to serving the interests of IBS-STL UK, our suppliers, stakeholders and the Christian Retail trade, and I trust together we can work hard to build our business together.

With warm Christian greetings.

Keith Danby


GLO Bookshop said...

Two questions, please. (from a longer post on the UK Christian Bookshops Blog)

1. Why is there a need to develop a new ‘partnership’? Wesley Owen already have a ‘Bulk Purchases’ option on their website- so why go to the trouble/expense of re-inventing that particular wheel?

2. Can IBS-STL give an assurance they will not use their dominant market position to significantly undercut other sectors of the trade through this new venture (directly marketing to churches & para-church organisations)?

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

A big hi to Andrew Clyde ... I remember him from his previous job. He'll be glad/sad to know that r20a, r20b and r20c are long gone, and I do remember switching off major for the last time!

Geoff said...

This is a Synergi question.
1. How up to date are the Top 100 lists of books, Bibles, music etc in Synergi. I think they are quite a few months old now. Are there any plans to update them?
2. There is a new Select magazine out. It would be really, really helpful if we could have a Select reorder catagory in the same way that there is a Top 100 Book catagory. Every time a new Select list comes out we have to go through typing in each ISBN to see if we have it in stock before ordering. This takes ages, whereas a Select reorder list would be really easy

Thanks, Geoff

cathy said...

Thanks for letting us know who's doing what job now. That's helpful information.

I see the blog has gone quiet, with no posts since this one some time ago, and no responses to the three comments so far.

Is there a problem? Are the people looking after the blog still doing so?

POS slips are a problem again, arriving very intermittently. We don't have the time or the staff to write them out by hand.
Are you able to sort that out please?

Thanks, Cathy

John Duncan said...

In the last five weeks I have had, by my calculations, 25 backorder lines sent through without discount being applied, spread over 13 different invoices. This means that I & my staff have to go through each invoice with a fine toothcomb, and then report these mistakes, a frustrating waste of time and energy. However I am quite sure that you at STL must be wasting considerably more time and energy than we are, as well as paper and ink, in crediting and re-invoicing all these items - particularly as I assume I am not the only customer being affected in this way.

Is there no way of getting on top of this problem?

GLO Bookshop said...

Cathy, I should maybe mention I had an acknowledgement of my earlier post/query via direct email. And looking at some other posts, it would seem that others have had a direct response as well to their question/issue. Whether it perhaps goes against the whole point of having an open blog is maybe a point worth thinking about?!

STL Blog team- this process could maybe be flagged on the 'blog' ('Responded directly to GLO Bookshop on this question' or similar statement?) so others have the confidence of knowing responses are being made- even if directly- to the person posting?

cathy said...

Thanks for letting me know that you've had an email reply.

I think you're right that replying by email instead of responding on the blog (rather than as well as) does rather negate the point of having the blog, as we probably all have similar problems and queries and it's very helpful to read comments from other shops.

Perhaps after the staff reshuffle, no-one is looking after the blog.

Is there anyone out there.....?

Trust Media Blog Team said...

Hi Geoff

Here are the answer to the synergi questions you asked:

1. How up to date are the Top 100 lists of books, Bibles, music etc in Synergi. I think they are quite a few months old now. Are there any plans to update them?

Our aim was, and still is to do this every three months, however following our computer change over this process has not recommenced, pending the bringing on stream of our Business Warehouse (i.e. the data required to create these reports) Our aim would be to have these available again by early summer. 2.There is a new Select magazine out. It would be really, really helpful if we could have a Select reorder category in the same way that there is a Top 100 Book category. Every time a new Select list comes out we have to go through typing in each ISBN to see if we have it in stock before ordering. This takes ages, whereas a Select reorder list would be really easy.

Thank you for this idea which seems to be a good one and one that would be helpful to a lot of people. We will take steps to get this incorporated into Synergi within the next couple of months.Kind Regards

STL Blog Team

Unknown said...

I am seriously concerned by the announcement that a Malcom Stockdale is going to be "looking at ways to better develop new types of relationships with churches and para-church organisations"
On whose behalf will he be working?
Our saving grace over the last 18 months has been our development of these relationships and if STL are going steaming and under-mining this effort it will have serious repercussions.
On the other hand, if they are coming up with new initiatives to support our efforts - GREAT