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Last Updated: Friday, 29 June 2007, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Companies clear up after flooding
By Marie Jackson
BBC News, Sheffield

Sheffield has been among the worst-hit places as severe flooding has hit parts of the UK, costing businesses millions of pounds.

Flood-damaged shop
Bennetts hopes customers will be sympathetic

"This is not a small business. We are one of the biggest suppliers of fishing equipment in Britain," says Shaun Hammonds, general manager of Bennetts.

As a shop and internet and mail order service, the Sheffield business, which has been trading for 50 years, has an annual turnover of about 4 million.

But today, the store is just a shell. Piled up outside is its interior and almost all of its stock is in skips.

Staff - more used to selling rods and reels - are all pitching in to help clear up after Monday's devastating floods but the prospects are not great.

Decontamination

"It's heartbreaking. The costs are going to run into millions," says Mr Hammonds.

"We've been apologising to customers for the interruption to service and are just hoping they will be sympathetic."

Nearby, Albert Brears, a salesman at Hobson's, suppliers of glassware, crockery and cutlery to hotels and pubs up and down the country, is also hard at work.

Albert Brears
This has totally devastated a lot of people
Shopworker Albert Brears

Both of its warehouses were flooded, soaking packaging and smashing glasses.

Effluent-filled water is everywhere meaning everything needs to be decontaminated.

He estimates some 20,000 worth of stock has been lost, with that figure expected to rise when they start clearing out the second warehouse.

"This has totally devastated a lot of people," he said. "You come to work, you put the hours in, you do the best you can and then this happens."

For the Armytages, owners of the Wicker Cafe, it has been an expensive week.

They are 3,000 down in takings, have had to spend 500 on new flooring and have yet to pay for new fridges and freezers.

More than that, they are worried the reputation built up over 11 years and culminating in a good review in the Yorkshire Post, may be dented.

Now they are busy hunting down sandbags, afraid that more rain forecast for Saturday could cost them even more.

Sarah Armytage
Sockets are out at the Wicker Cafe so water has to be boiled

Next door at Wicker Pharmacy, they are primed with 90 homemade sandbags.

Dozens of staff, kitted out in waterproofs and wellies, are sorting through the basement.

Until Thursday, it was filled with water from floor to ceiling, destroying medicines, pills and stacks of crucial paperwork.

Managing director Martin Bennett reckons 100,000 of stock was ruined and expects the cost of the damage to be the same again.

The clean-up job is expected to take until Christmas but Mr Bennett remains proud that the floods did not defeat them entirely.

"We have opened every day since 1957, and we still have," he said. "We won't let a flood force us to close."






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