Six months after Family Christian Stores, the nation’s largest chain of Christian book and gift stores, filed for Chapter 11 protection, a Michigan judge on Tuesday approved a Chapter 11 bankruptcy sale that is expected to help the struggling business drop millions in debt and remain open.
Family Christian Stores, according to an mlive report, claimed total debts of more than $127 million and assets of nearly $75 million. It is expected to be sold debt-free to Family Christian Acquisitions for between $52.4 million and $55.7 million.
After enduring a process fraught with contentious disagreements between parties involved with the negotiations, which he said tested his faith, Family Christian Stores CEO Chuck Bengochea said it was now time to celebrate and believes God “has a plan” for the Grand Rapids-based business.
“We have been through dark days and now we can celebrate,” said Bengochea shortly after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Gregg approved the sale to Family Christian Acquisitions, a related entity. “We have a sovereign God who has a plan for Family Christian.”
Bengochea said the sale of the 266 store-chain which employs 3,100 people will allow the nonprofit business to continue its mission of serving God and helping widows and orphans.
Citing James 1:27 as the premise of their mission on their website, Family Christian Stores notes: “Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do. And with every purchase you make, you’re making an amazing difference in their lives.”
Bengochea said that both suppliers and vendors associated with the business were hurt by the sale to Family Christian Acquisitions controlled by Family Christian stores owner, Richard Jackson. They, however, supported the sale anyway and Bengochea expressed his thanks for their support.
Jackson was reportedly the company’s largest secured creditor and he pledged to donate all of its profits to Christian charities after converting it to a nonprofit.
Despite initial objections to the sale to Jackson as an insider, Judge Gregg said he felt the sale was made in good faith and most of the objectors were eventually brought onboard with the decision to sell the business to Jackson.
“Today, Family Christian is reborn,” Todd Almassian, an attorney for Family Christian Stores, said after the hearing. “We’re here because of the leadership of Chuck Bengochea, the commitment of Richard Jackson and the sacrifice and loyalty of the creditors.”
SOURCE: Christian Post – Leonardo Blair