Deseret Book severs relationship with Seagull

Published: Thursday, July 13 2006 9:29 a.m. MDT

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 Amazon.com, along with independent retailers.


E-mail: jnii@desnews.com

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