Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bookstore Suffers Staff Cuts after Financial Losses: Toronto's ABC Pursues Recovery

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bookstore Suffers Staff Cuts after Financial Losses: Toronto's ABC Pursues Recovery

Article excerpt

In a move that General Synod said was meant to save the Anglican Book Centre (ABC) from being shut down, six of its employees were laid off last September and the bookstore's hours trimmed.

"The future of the book centre was on the line," said the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, in an address to staff on Sept. 20.

"If we couldn't come up with a viable plan that would have balanced the bottom line there would have been a distinct possibility that we would have closed (ABC)," said General Synod treasurer Peter Blachford in an interview. "The plan was to ensure ABC's continuance because it's a very valuable resource for the church." He said that Management Team--the national office's department heads--had a mandate from the church's finance committee "to ensure that we were staying in the black." In 2003, ABC lost $370,252; in 2004, it lost $306,892.

Book centre manager Dan Benson said several factors--including a long, drawn- out move--contributed to the difficulties faced by ABC. Mr. Benson also noted that ABC--which Toronto Life magazine identified as the oldest bookstore in the city--has, until recently, been a net contributor to General Synod's bottom line. "We have sent a total of $1.38 million to General Synod in the five years before 2003," he said. This year, the bookstore is recovering, he said. "I see us either breaking even or making a small profit in 2005," said Mr. Benson.

In fall, 2003, the national office scheduled a move to new quarters at 80 Hayden St., a half block from the old office at 600 Jarvis St. General Synod financial managers directed the bookstore to liquidate inventory at sale prices in order to bolster cash flow and to reduce the amount of inventory to be moved. Due to construction delays, however, the move did not take place until June 2004.

Many customers had stocked up at sale prices and sales did not pick up in 2004, said Mr. Benson. The store also had to spend to restock its inventory. Additionally, he said, "we moved from an address where we had been established for 70 years to a back street with less parking." Some 40 per cent of the bookstore's sales result from walk-in traffic, he noted.

Last summer, General Synod's managers asked a consultant, Tom Sperling (formerly of Augsberg Fortress publishing), to evaluate ABC's operations.

The Anglican Journal requested a copy of the report but Mr. Blachford said that management team decided not to release it, saying it is not a public document and that it was only one factor in management's decisions. …

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