Family Christian Stores, the largest Christian retail chain with 280 stores in 36 states, has been acquired from its private equity owners by the chain’s management team in partnership with three Atlanta-based investors.
The new owners pledge to contribute 100% of Family’s profits to Christian ministries serving widows and orphans in the U.S. and abroad. A statement said, “The new ownership structure will allow the organization to not only equip Christians in their daily walk, but to increase the organization's impact by providing substantial financial support to faith-based causes.”
Cliff Bartow, president and CEO of Family Christian, stated, "While we have long been committed to giving to Christian causes, we felt called to multiply our impact.” The investors, all of whom have been involved in charitable causes focused on adoption, orphans, and children in foster care, include Richard L. Jackson, founder and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, the nation's third-largest healthcare staffing company; Larry Powell, president of Powell Family Enterprises, LLC, a private equity investment company; and Michael Kendrick, an investment banker who has founded, developed, and funded a number Christian service organizations, including Blueprint for Life and Ministry Ventures, a non-profit organization dedicated to launching new ministries.
Family Christian stated that the change in ownership would not affect its operations, stores, or staff. “The company has ambitious plans to grow its revenue and increase financial support for faith-based ministries around the world. This includes maintaining store update efforts and looking at new product assortments and resources to better meet the lifestyle needs of customers,” a statement said. Asked whether there were plans to add or close any stores, Bartow said, "We will continue with the same process of evaluation we always have. If we determine there is a market in an area but a location isn't working, we will relocate a store. If we determine there really isn't a market, we might close a store."
Bartow told PW the company has decided to drop its own e-reader--the edifi, launched earlier this year--"because the technology is moving so rapidly, and this is not our core competency." Instead, Family will work with Kobo, carrying four of their color devices and three of their black-and-white devices for the Christmas season. "We definitely believe in the future of e-books," Bartow said.
As for the future of brick and mortar, Bartow said, "We believe our stores are a viable concept. Today customers want to be served through multiple channels. Look at Apple--they do business online but their physical stores are also important. Our customers want the store experience. They want a place they can come for inspiration and interaction with our staff."
William Blair & Co., LLC, acted as exclusive financial advisor to the investors. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.