Christian Connexion, the Christian bookstore and church requisites arm of the Methodist Publishing House, has joined forces with National book chain, Van Schaik Bookshops, in a new business arrangement for the year ahead. In 2020, the two organisations will try out what they hope will be a mutually beneficial arrangement, with Van Schaik becoming an extended sales channel for Christian Connexion products across ten of its 64 stores nationally.
Christian Connexion stores have been hard hit by the international market downturn in Christian retailing. The chain currently operates stores in eight locations, and has been looking for new ways to ensure that it can fulfil its mission of being a resource centre for the faith community, supplying materials, resources and church requisites for clergy and congregations across Southern Africa.
It is important for us to be able to service the needs of the faith community in all areas of the country and neighbouring states that are served by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, and our ecumenical partners, says Hyreath Anderson, GM of Methodist Publishing House. While the cost of operating our own stores has become prohibitive, the Christian community need for the day-to-day requirements of church life is still a reality. And while online ecommerce offers a solution, a large part of our demographic is not yet comfortable with moving completely into shopping online. We have looked at the national footprint of the MCSA as a starting point, and its 15 synods, and have searched for suitable sales channels for those areas where we are unable to operate our own store due to high overhead costs. With Van Schaik looking to expand its product range and services in 2020, the business arrangement was synergistic and timely.
Van Schaik MD, Stephan Erasmus, concurs that this is the right moment. The 2020 year is an important one for Van Schaik, and will see us opening or relocating 5 stores at locations that are better suited to our strategy change of becoming a lifestyle destination store. Christian products offer a good fit with our demographic, and the store locations have in most cases neatly mapped onto the location requirements of the Christian Connexion chain.
Launching in 2020, in ten Van Schaik stores initially, Christian Connexion customers will find branded shop space within the Van Schaik stores in: Boksburg, Braamfontein, Grahamstown (Makhanda) Newcastle, Nelspruit, Parow, Polokwane, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg and Pretoria (Hatfield).