More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of America’s largest Christian retailers.

More than two years ago, suppliers forgave Family Christian Stores $127 million in debt so that it could remain open. Today, the chain—one of the largest Christian retailers in the United States—announced it is closing all of its stores after 85 years in business.

Family Christian, which employed more than 3,000 people in more than 240 stores across 36 states, blamed “changing consumer behavior and declining sales.”

“We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” stated president Chuck Bengochea. “Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline. In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market.

“We have prayerfully looked at all possible options, trusting God’s plan for our organization,” he stated, “and the difficult decision to liquidate is our only recourse.”

Tyndale House Publishers chairman and CEO Mark Taylor called the stores “an important outlet for Christian books, gifts, and Bibles for many decades.”

“All of us at Tyndale House Publishers feel a sense of grief over Family Christian’s decision to close the entire chain of stores,” he stated. “Family’s millions of customers now have even fewer options for finding these wonderful, life-giving products. The entire Christian community—indeed the entire nation—will be poorer as a result of this pending closure.

“At the same time that we share our sense of loss, we express our appreciation to Chuck Bengochea and his staff who have worked so hard over the past few years to make the chain of stores succeed,” stated Taylor. …

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