STAFF at a Christian book shop were fired by e-mail and told to re-apply for their own jobs – then given a temporary reprieve.
But a sign reading “Closed until further notice. Sorry for any inconvenience” now hangs in the window of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) shop on St Werburgh Street.
The e-mail, sent on June 1, informed shop assistants that, as the company that owns the chain, St Stephen the Great (SSG), has been terminated as the trading company to operate the bookshops, it will be staffed by a new management company.
The e-mail, from president of SSG, Phillip W Brewer, continued: “Should you wish to continue your employment at the Chester bookshop, you may do so by applying for a position with the new company. The company which will operate the bookshops is ENC Management Company.
“This is not a transfer of your employment under TUPE. Rather, this is notification to you by St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust that the trading company known as SSG will no longer be operating the bookshop.”
It transpires that Mr Brewer and his brother Mark Brewer are also directors at ENC.
In October 2006, St Stephen The Great Charitable Trust acquired all the assets of the bookshops from the SPCK but has now filed for protection from its creditors.
The Brewer family has now advised staff that they can continue to work under their old contracts whilst SSG takes legal advice.
The Booksellers Association (BA), of which SSG is a member, say they “do not comment on how members run their businesses”.