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Monday, 16 November 2009

IBS-STL UK Trade Communication


Leading Christian book and Bible charity IBS-STL UK today announced that it has appointed Baker Tilly Corporate Finance LLP to pursue the sale of its operations.

The move has come after a succession of financial problems, in particular the failed implementation of a new SAP computer system in October 2008, the effects of which were exacerbated by the economic downturn. These have caused significant cash flow pressures, excess stock, and supply chain and service difficulties in its distribution and retail units. They have culminated in the decision to exit the business.

IBS-STL UK convened an emergency task force led by Global President of Biblica and former CEO of STL, Keith Danby, which has been in constant dialogue with its suppliers and bankers. It had also engaged restructuring and business process consultants in an attempt to resolve the systems and financial challenges.

Danby said: “Given the severe financial and operational strains we have experienced, the Board of Trustees and management team believe a sale or exit from all or parts of certain operations is a prudent and necessary step. Whilst a difficult decision, we are focused on finding a solution to continue the important work of IBS-STL UK, to secure the jobs of the 490 people employed in our ministry, and to fulfill our financial obligations to our suppliers and creditors. We are working diligently and praying vigilantly for a successful outcome.”

The corporate finance division of Baker Tilly is actively marketing the operations of the charity to a number of interested parties and is hopeful it will complete negotiations for the sales or potential closures within the next few weeks. IBS-STL UK was founded in 1962 and has grown to become a major UK charity.

IBS-STL UK has three trading divisions; Authentic Media, a book and music publisher; STL Distribution, a distributor of Christian resources and Wesley Owen Books and Music, a retailer with 40 shops in the UK. IBS-STL UK is part of Biblica, a global Bible translation, publishing, distribution and outreach ministry serving more than 100 countries with books, Bibles and other Christian resources. Biblica said the planned sale of the UK operations will not impact its other global operations and donor funds supporting Biblica’s worldwide outreach ministries will not be affected.

Michael Fitch, Chairman of the IBS-STL UK Board of Trustees, concluded: “We continue to believe strongly in the power of God’s Word and Christian resources to change peoples’ lives. We are praying that we can pass the torch on to other likeminded organisations so that our UK staff, suppliers and ministry partners can carry our work forward.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors
IBS-STL UK, formerly known as Send The Light, began operating as a literature distributor in the UK in 1962 and expanded into worldwide evangelism and church planting organisation Operation Mobilisation. STL merged with the International Bible Society (IBS) in 2007 to create a worldwide Christian ministry focusing on Bible Translation, book and Bible publishing, multi-channel distribution and outreach spanning five continents. IBS-STL UK operations include trade book publisher Authentic Media, retailer Wesley Owen Books & Music and Christian resource distributor STL Distribution.

Media Enquiries:

U.K. Media Contact:
Iain Taylor, Red & Green +44(0) 1892 750900 or 07979914217

U.S. Media Contact:
Jeff Lambert, Lambert, Edwards & Associates +001 616 233 0500

Further Enquiries:

Keith Danby, CEO +44(0) 1228 611777

Baker Tilly Corporate Finance
Gary Houghton, Partner + 44(0) 161 830 4000
Martyn Rickels, Manager +44(0) 161 830 4000


Anonymous said...

My response is over on the UKCBD Blog: A Modest Proposal to Save STL UK. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Anonymous said...

I'm obviously very sorry to see the news that IBS-STL is up for sale. AS someone who believes in its mission, and was very much a part of the work for 7+ years, my prayers & support are with you all at this difficult time.

mrgrandpiano said...

How the mighty have fallen. I worked for several years 99-04 in a christian bookstore which I also briefly managed. It was incredibly difficult to compete even when we were the only store for miles around. The usual response when we didn't have what a customer wanted was "I'll get it from Wesley Owen" (25 miles away) It was easy to believe that STL were the sole players in Christian retail in the UK. Indeed it is probaly impossible to run a Christian bookstore without having an account with STL. They have done a great job of bringing Christian retail into the 21st century but in doing so have had the "Tesco" effect in that many small 'ministry' stores have had to close. For one company to have such power in what has been a very niche hostile market, has in effect been damaging. In 2003 I visited STL, a invitation orginating from my protests at carriage charges (3.95 for a small jiffy bag by royal mail). Whilst we were treated with the utmost kindness, it was very clear that we were in fact up against rivals that we could never compete with. The carriage charge issue may sound absurd but it was crippling us in that we had to be very frugal with our orders. I am well out of the christian bookshop trade now and as such don't have an in-depth knowledge of current events. However I do wonder whether STL just simply grew too big for it's boots. Yes a much more profeessional bookshop industry has emerged but at what cost? If we step out of the will of the Lord and try to do too much too soon, then we are effectively running on empty and, just like the current government, it is a case of boom and bust. Perhaps a more evenly balanced Christian retail market will be beneficial in the long term. The challenges to get people to shop in their local bookstore are immense and whilst I am saddened by STL's problems, I can't help but feel that the Lord is trying to tell us all something.

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