ST STEPHEN the Great (SSG), the owner of the former SPCK bookshops, announced last week that its trading arm, Saint Stephen the Great LLC, has been “placed into reorganization” in the United States Bankruptcy Court.
A new company, “ENC Management Company”, has been set up to run the bookshops instead of SSG LLC. Separate companies have been set up to run the Durham Cathedral bookshop and the Chichester branch. Companies House lists
Mark and Phil Brewer, the two Texan brothers who head SSG, as the directors of all three of these new companies.
In an email sent to a number of bookshops, SSG employees were told that “payroll, redundancy and other such obligations will only be payable through the bankruptcy court”. The bookshop staff were “invited to apply for a position with ENC Management Company”.
Suppliers who emailed SSG were sent an automated response, saying that “efforts to collect an alleged debt from SSG are subject to the automatic stay provisions of the US Bankruptcy Code”. It is understood that some suppliers are owed significant sums.
A number of shops have been closed; it is not certain whether temporarily or permanently. These include Chester, Newcastle, and Worcester.
The first employment-tribunal case brought by a former SPCK bookshop employee was due to take place today at the Sheffield Employment Tribunal (News, 25 April), but was adjourned because of the “bankruptcy” announcement.