Nationwide Christian Trust puts faith in former Wesley Owen stores

Nationwide Christian Trust puts faith in former Wesley Owen stores

<p>Wesley Owen shops taken over by the Nationwide Christian Trust are being given a revamp with the aim of being &ldquo;totally accessible to people, irrespective of faith&rdquo;.<br /><br />Under the Living Oasis brand the Trust took over 20 Wesley Owen stores after its parent IBS-STL went into administration in December 2009. The shops are being reformatted to include a coffee shop as well as a children&rsquo;s play area and a lounge that can be used to hold events.<br /><br />The shops will still stock a full range of Christian resources and each shop manager has been given the authority to buy stock that is specifically relevant to their local area, rather than stock being ordered centrally.<br /><br />Revd Andy Twilley, director of Christian Life &amp; Ministry at the Nationwide Christian Trust, said: &ldquo;The shop window will be a coffee shop, it will be a de-Christianised shop window and there won&rsquo;t be Christian paraphernalia. We want it to be totally accessible to people, irrespective of faith.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;We want to draw in businessmen, families&mdash;we want to draw in a whole cross-section.&rdquo; He was unable to give a definite time-frame, but said the first store with the new look should open within the next two months.<br /><br />Twilley added that owing to the shops being situated away from main thoroughfares they were attracting only intentional, not passing, trade. The chain has hired specialists to assess individual store locations with a view to moving to more prominent high street locations if necessary.<br /><br />In September a website will be launched incorporating reserve online service. The online prices will not be cheaper than the high street shops and there will be a church community area so that churches can post forthcoming events. &ldquo;The whole community feel and the &lsquo;support your local bookshop&rsquo; will be right at the heart of the website,&rdquo; said Twilley.</p>