Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fwd: Deseret Book severs relationship with Seagull

Deseret Book severs relationship with Seagull
By Jenifer K. Nii
Deseret Morning News
      Deseret Book confirmed Wednesday that it will no longer sell any
of its products to retailer Seagull Book & Tape, citing disagreements
about how Seagull handled and promoted Deseret Book merchandise.
      But Seagull seemed determined Wednesday to mend fences.
      Jeff Simpson, Deseret Book executive vice president, confirmed
that there were disagreements and differences of opinion with Salt
Lake-based Seagull, resulting in the severing of relationships between
the two.
      "We changed the nature of our relationship with them a few weeks
ago," Simpson said Wednesday. "There was a difference of opinion about
how they merchandised, marketed and promoted our products."
      Deseret Book didn't like the way Seagull handled its products,
for example, and had information that certain merchandising programs
were not being honored, Simpson said. Seagull customers likely will
see Deseret Book's products thinning from Seagull's shelves over the
coming weeks.
      Like the Deseret Morning News, Deseret Book is a wholly owned
subsidiary of Deseret Management Corp., the holding company for
businesses owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
      Seagull spokesman David Politis said Wednesday that "Seagull has
been working, and continues to work towards a goal of continuing its
long-standing relationship with Deseret Book. Seagull Book had
previously scheduled a press conference for Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
That press conference has been postponed. The expectation is that
there will be greater clarity on the relationship between the two
parties next week."
      Seagull declined further comment Wednesday regarding what was to
have been addressed or announced at the press conference or the
implications of its statement.
      The company, which was formed in 1987 by V. Lewis Cofford, was
designed to provide a new distribution channel for LDS media —
specifically, for other LDS publishers and for Seagull's sister
company, Covenant Communications. Seagull has 24 stores in Utah,
Idaho, Arizona and California.
      Simpson downplayed the notion of ill will in the relationship
between Deseret Book and Seagull, stating that the decision to sever
ties was made "in the normal course of business."
      "We make these decisions as part of an ongoing evaluation of how
we're conducting our business," Simpson said. "It really boils down to
how our products are represented in the marketplace, how they're
merchandised and promoted. It's important."
      What it isn't, according to Simpson, is a change in strategy for
Deseret Book on how it deals with outside vendors.
      "Our products are still available at hundreds of outlets across
the West, the country and the world," he said, citing vendors like
Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Smith's and, along
with independent retailers.

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