Family Christian Stores earned a second chance at success after creditors and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Gregg approved its sale to FC Acquisition.
Owned by Atlanta businessman Richard Jackson, FCS first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in February citing the recession, the digital revolution, and the company’s debt load as causes. The chain quickly announced plans to keep stores open by selling FCS to FCS Acquisition, a subsidiary of the chain’s parent company also owned by Jackson, but Judge Gregg denied the sale motion in June. Instead, FCS investors and creditors voted to approve a revised reorganization plan last week that included the sale to FCS Acquisition.
Byron Williamson, CEO, president, and publisher of Worthy Publishing, is “thrilled” that FCS will remain open, noting that for religion book publishers its closure would have been on par with Borders closing in 2011. Williamson said Worthy Publishing relies on FCS as a major outlet for sales.
“We need them badly enough and they are important enough that we plan in supporting them any way we can,” the CEO told PW. “We are hopeful.” Worthy is looking beyond FCS’ recent legal entanglements to brighter days, and a v-p of sales will meet with FCS in Grand Rapids next week, according to Williamson.
Fred Evans, senior v-p of sales at B&H Publishing, echoed Worthy’s sentiments, saying, “We are pleased everything has been resolved and to be working with them again,” before noting a planned “reset” in business practices with FCS.
HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told PW that the company's religion publishing division, HarperCollins Christian Publishing, "took a hit" in the year due to the bankruptcy of Family Christian, but that HC will continue to trade with the chain. "We'll give them a chance," he said.
Hachette Book Group also absorbed "significant" losses, according to v-p of CBA sales and marketing Gary Davidson. Nevertheless, the sale of Family Christian is a "positive thing for the industry." "It's a small industry," said Davidson. "At least Family Christian can move forward and support what vendors bring them."
Over at Baker Publishing Group, President Dwight Baker said the company will continue working with FCS, but hinted at his happiness with the chain’s financial woes. “Baker Publishing Group is prepared to restore our relationship with FCS and to explore how we can together serve readers of Christian books,” he told PW. “That outcome is our only justification for this embarrassing struggle.”