Living Oasis closes another branch

Living Oasis closes another branch

Christian retailer Living Oasis has closed another store, with it slashing its number of branches from 19 to four in just over four months.

The Cheltenham, Gloucestershire branch was closed on Friday with two days’ notice given to its four staff. The closure follows the demise of the Chester, Weston-Super-Mare, Worthing and Nottingham branches, which were all announced within a month.

The Cheltenham store ceased trading because sales were in decline and the shop lacked support from the local churches and community to turn it into a “phase two” store, which would also include a coffee shop and social area.

Ray George, chairman of the Nationwide Christian Trust, which bought the 19 stores from Wesley Owen in January 2009, said that most of the bookshops were losing between £2-4,000 a month and needed to diversify if they were to survive.

However, he said if there was no support from churches and the local community to move the bookstores into new premises to accommodate a coffee shop business and community meeting space, then they would have to close.

The manager at the Cheltenham Living Oasis branch, Graham Buckeridge said he “couldn’t blame” George for his decision. He said: “They (the closed-down stores) were losing him a lot of money, so he was very generous really in keeping them going as long as he did.”

The only four stores still trading are Manchester, Watford, South Woodford and Harrogate with Leeds and Liverpool awaiting “phase two” development.