Ireland’s leading religious publisher, Veritas, which operates seven retail shops across the country selling religious publications and religious goods, has announced it will close by the end of the year with the loss of up to 80 jobs.
In a statement on Friday, Chris Queenan, Chair of the Board of Veritas, which is owned by the Irish Catholic Bishops, said the decision had been taken to commence an “orderly wind down” following a strategic review.
He explained that Veritas has seen a significant and sustained downturn in its business in recent years. He blamed the “ever-changing market, societal dynamics, and evolving shopper habits” which he said had impacted both the competitiveness and commercial viability of the business.
The announcement underscores the decline in catholic fortunes in Ireland in recent years, where the fall in vocations has been matched by lower mass attendances and this in turn has seen lower income from weekly mass collections. Religious publishing has suffered too.
According to Mr Queenan, the wind down of Veritas, including the closure of its seven shops and its warehouse facility will be done with the assistance of a loan from the Irish bishops.
A spokesperson told the Irish Independent that a consultation process is getting underway with the 80 employees.
One source said: “It is a huge shock. We were sure what was coming would be bad but nobody thought it would be this bad.”
There seems little hope for any jobs to be salvaged. Employees will be offered redundancy and assistance in finding alternative employment.
Chris Queenan said the alternative of a restructuring process would not mitigate the challenges that exist or sufficiently improve the commercial prospects of the business.
Responding to the news, the Catholic bishops said the closure represented “a great loss to the Church in Ireland”.
“We understand that Veritas has made this very difficult decision following a number of years of challenging trading conditions, but today’s announcement brings especially sad news for Veritas employees as well as the many customers and friends of Veritas throughout the country and beyond.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are directly impacted by today’s announcement,” the bishops stated.
The decision means the bishops will have to find an alternative outlet for flagship Veritas titles such as the ‘Grow in Love’ series, which is part of the syllabus for many primary schools across the country.