Living Oasis owner puts chain up for sale

The owner of Living Oasis is in talks with a “third party” to buy the chain after he closed two of his four remaining shops.

Ray George, chairman of the Nationwide Christian Trust (NCT), which bought 19 former Wesley Owen bookshops in January 2010, said the stores were losing him too much money and he did not see a future in Christian bookselling in the current climate.

In the last four months, the stores have decreased in number from 19 to four as George shut them one-by-one when the financial support he hoped to receive from local churches to keep them open did not come into fruition.

Only the Harrogate and Watford branches are left trading, because NCT owns the freehold on the Harrogate premises and Watford is being run as a franchise. The Manchester branch has closed and South Woodford will wind-up trade tomorrow (30th July). The latest redundancies affect two full-time members of staff and six part-time.

George said: “We have lost £1.2m in the last year and we are pulling out of book retailing. It is us too much for us to continue with, we cannot face these losses.”

The NCT, which runs ministry events from Mulberry House in High Ongar, Essex, has been bearing the brunt of the financial loss, George said. He added he was in talks with “a third party” to buy some of the Living Oasis stores which have shut, and Harrogate which is still open, but said it was too early to specify how many.

George said: “We do not think bookshops have a future in the current climate, Christian bookshops are going to struggle. We wanted to change them to include a coffee shop and community centres to survive.”