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Family Christian Stores Buys Itself, Pledges to Give 100% of Profits to Widows and Orphans

America's largest chain of Christian stores buys itself from private equity owners.

The largest chain of Christian retail stores in America, Family Christian Stores (FCS), has bought itself from its private equity owners, reports Publisher's Weekly. (Full press release below.)

PW's Lynn Garrett reports that the new owners, FCS's management team plus three Atlanta-based investors, "pledge to contribute 100% of [FCS] profits to Christian ministries serving widows and orphans in the U.S. and abroad."

FCS will also kill the e-reader initiative it launched this summer.

CT previously reported tensions between FCS and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and editorialized on FCS's decision to sell on Sundays, among other coverage of Christian retail news.

CT also published a cover story on how to save the Christian bookstore (hint: stop making it so religious), noted how Christian publishers are searching for the next big thing, and reported how more and more churches are getting into the book business.

Here's the press release:

Family Christian Management Team Partners with Christian Businessmen to Acquire National Retailer

New Ownership Commits 100% of Profits to Faith-Based Charities

Contact: Tara Powers, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, 616-233-0500, tpowers@lambert-edwards.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Nov. 15, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ – Family Christian, the nation's largest Christian retail chain with 280 stores in 36 states, announced today that its management team has partnered with a group of Atlanta-based Christian businessmen to acquire the company from its private equity owners. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Under the new ownership, Family Christian's pledge is to contribute 100% of its profits to Christian causes and, specifically, ministries serving widows and orphans both in the U.S. and abroad. Family Christian has always been committed to providing resources for the Christian community, but the new ownership structure will allow the organization to not only equip Christians in their daily walk, but to increase the organization's impact by providing substantial financial support to faith-based causes.

"The management team and our investors are buying Family Christian because of our shared belief that the Company is uniquely positioned to be both a best-in-class Christian retailer and a significant source of financial support to help those in need," said Cliff Bartow, President and CEO of Family Christian. "While we have long been committed to giving to Christian causes, we felt called to multiply our impact. We have been on a journey for several years to find potential like-minded Christian owners who share our passion and calling, and believe it's the providence and sovereignty of God that we met and now partner with our new co-owners."

The investment group is comprised of three Atlanta-based Christian businessmen, each of whom give substantially of their time, talent and treasure to Christian ministries, including several focused on orphan, foster care and adoption causes. Richard L. Jackson is the founder and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, the nation's third largest healthcare staffing company, and is deeply committed to bringing hope and opportunity into the lives of underserved children. Jackson serves in a number of ways including as the Chairman of FaithBridge Foster Care. Larry Powell is the president of Powell Family Enterprises, LLC, a private equity investment company and is actively involved in a number of ministries, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Generous Giving. Michael Kendrick has used his success in investment banking as a catalyst for founding, developing, and funding organizations dedicated to Christian service, including Blueprint for Life and Ministry Ventures, a non-profit organization dedicated to launching new ministries.

"Each of these men have been blessed with professional success and share a mutual calling to give back to help those in need. This alignment of business acumen and Christian calling led them to the collective decision to join with us to acquire Family Christian and move it from an organization that contributes 10% of its profits, to one that contributes 100% of its profits to faith-based charities and ministries," said Bartow. "It is the hope of all involved that this transition can be a model of Christian business and ministry excellence that can be replicated by other organizations that wish to use their business resources to maximize Kingdom impact."

Family Christian reported that while its ownership structure and financial purpose has changed, there will be no impact on its core operations, stores or staff. The company has ambitious plans to grow its revenue and increase financial support for faith-based ministries around the world. This includes maintaining store update efforts and looking at new product assortments and resources to better meet the lifestyle needs of customers. Family Christian will continue to carry a wide assortment of Christian products ranging from Bibles, gifts and home décor to books, children's and family resources.

"We are excited about what this ownership change means for our customers, staff and vendor partners who join us in the ongoing Christian pursuit of putting faith into action," said Bartow. "In many ways, we are returning to our roots as a Christian family-owned business focused on making a significant impact in helping those in need. Since our founding in 1932, we have established a relationship of trust and safety with our customers, while enjoying a reputation for providing great service and quality products. We intend to continue to uphold the high level of retail excellence, while applying the full operational and financial resources of the Company for the benefit of widows, orphans and foster children and Christian charities – all for God's glory."

William Blair & Company, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to the investors.

About Family Christian

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Family Christian is the world's largest Christian specialty retailer with 280 stores in 36 states. With a vision to be a catalyst to help create families near and far, Family Christian offers a wide variety of faith-based resources, including Bibles, books, children's products, gifts, music and more, with the aim of helping any person find, grow, share and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ. Family Christian's ministry and mission leaders inspire, equip, and enable people to reach out and help those in need and put the power of prayer into action. Family Christian's partnerships provide a wide range of options so everyone can get involved and our people help Christians put their faith into action. Learn more at www.familychristian.com.

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