Wesley Owen is the latest publishing-related company to suffer from the economic downturn following the collapse of Borders Books and the planned sale of Chambers in Edinburgh in the space of a month.

The business, which has six Wesley Owen book stores across Scotland, has appointed Baker Tilly Corporate Finance to push the sale and said it has had a number of “encouraging expressions of interest”.

As well as the large store in George Street, Edinburgh, which is next door to the Church of Scotland’s headquarters, there are shops in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Falkirk, Dundee and Inverness.

The Kirk, currently facing its own financial pressures, is the landlord for Wesley Owen.

A spokesman for the Kirk said: “The Church of Scotland is only the landlord of that (Edinburgh) branch and is monitoring the situation and in discussion with Wesley Owen about the situation.”

It is unclear at this stage whether it would be possible for the Church to become involved in providing books again from the outlet, which Wesley Owen took over about 15 years ago. The company employs around 60 in Scotland.

The move to sell has come after a succession of financial problems, in particular the failed implementation of a new computer system in October 2008, the effects of which were exacerbated by the downturn.

These have caused significant cash flow pressures, excess stock, and supply chain and service difficulties in its distribution and retail units.

A spokesman said yesterday the problems “have culmin­ated in the decision to exit the business”.

The operating company, known as IBS-STL UK, convened an emergency task force led by Keith Danby, global president of Biblica and former head of STL.

Mr Danby said: “Given the severe financial and operational strains we have experienced, the board of trustees and management team believe a sale or exit from all or parts of certain operations is a prudent and necessary step.

“Whilst a difficult decision, we are focused on finding a solution to continue the important work of IBS-STL UK, to secure the jobs of the 490 people employed in our ministry, and to fulfil our financial obligations to our suppliers and creditors.

“We are working diligently and praying vigilantly for a successful outcome.”

The corporate finance division of Baker Tilly is actively marketing the operations of the charity to a number of interested parties and is hopeful it will “complete negotiations for the sales or potential closures within the next few weeks”.

Its Authentic Media, a book and music publisher, and STL Distribution, a provider of Christian resources, are also for sale.

Michael Fitch, chairman of the IBS-STL UK board of trustees, added: “We continue to believe strongly in the power of God’s word and Christian resources to change peoples’ lives.

“We are praying we can pass the torch on to other likeminded organisations so our UK staff, suppliers and ministry partners can carry our work forward.”

Global parent Biblica said the planned sale of the UK operations will not impact its other operations and donor funds supporting Biblica’s worldwide outreach ministries will not be affected.