Lion Hudson Christian publishing is going into administration, Christian Today can reveal, and has made nearly two-thirds of its staff redundant.
The award-winning company, famous for books such as Canon Andrew White's My Journey So Far, has been forced to dismiss 35 staff after it failed to recover from ongoing financial pressures.
Managing director Suzanne Wilson-Huggins insisted the company was not liquidating but has submitted a notice of intent to go into administration. She described the move as a "deep and painful restructure".
A total of 18 staff remain. Wilson-Huggins said she believed "there is a way forward for the business to continue in our mission to publish quality literature worldwide true to the Christian faith."
Lion's financial statement for 2016 stressed particularly "tough market conditions" and reported a £30,000 loss on top of a £184,000 loss the year before.
But the report, published in September 2016, gives no indications of forthcoming redundancies despite the "challenging" outlook. It says the directors expect the company "to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future" and that it "will be able to meet its liabilities."
It concludes thatan approach of reducing overheads left the firm "in good stead" in spite of the "turbulent" economy.
"The Company still maintains a strong balance sheet enabling it to counter the inherent uncertainty in the economy," the report said.
In a prayer letter in December, Wilson-Huggins said she was "acutely aware that Lion Hudson has truly been tested in 2016" and asked for prayer for "a positive extraordinary shareholder meeting in January".
Phil Groom, an expert in Christian publishing, told Christian Today, the loss would be devastating if Lion Hudson went bankrupt.
"It would be a major blow not only for the Christian publishing but for the whole Christians community
"They are a bright vibrant presence within the trade and in their children's imprint especially."
He said the company had struggled with crippling debts for several years and it was unlikely anyone else would buy them out.
A statement from Wilson-Huggins said: "We had a positive team meeting this morning and prayed together at lunchtime for leavers, each other and the future of Lion.
"To reiterate, we believe there is a way forward for the business and our financial advisors are being very supportive throughout this process.
"We would very much value your continued prayer support at this time as we adjust to new ways of working."