All Cokesbury stores closing as UM Publishing House focuses on online and phone sales

All Cokesbury stores closing as UM Publishing House focuses on online and phone sales

The United Methodist Publishing House is closing all its Cokesbury stores, ending a signature brick-and-mortar presence for the denomination, one that has been in place for generations.

A fast-changing landscape in bookselling prompted the publishing house to focus its energy and investments in selling online and through its call center.

By April 30, 2013, all 38 “full-line” stores and 19 seminary stores will close.

“Cokesbury has been serving for more than 200 years, and during that time has continuously adapted to the changing landscape affecting congregations and their leaders,” said UMPH President and Publisher Neil Alexander in a Nov. 5 statement.

He added: “A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today. It is difficult to see the closure of Cokesbury local stores, but doing so will allow us to make a greater investment in the ways of shopping with Cokesbury that customers increasingly prefer.”

UMPH, a self-supporting part of the United Methodist Church, said it will provide severance, outplacement services and spiritual counseling to employees losing their jobs.

The move affects 185 full-time employees and 100 part-timers, Mr. Alexander said.

“The decision to close all local stores in the Cokesbury chain was most difficult,” said the Rev. R.  Carl Frazier, lead pastor at First UMC, Cary, N.C., and chair of the UMPH board. “The board expressed deep appreciation for the local store staff teams and interest in helping them face the challenge of transition to new employment over the next months.

“Nevertheless, the decision was made with regret but no dissent after careful prayer and study of compelling data about customer preferences and industry trends.”


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