Cash flow has emerged as the biggest headache for retailers caught up in August’s riots, while insurers have moved to relieve concerns over rising premiums.
Paul Stone’s three Spar stores in Manchester were looted during the unrest and the clean-up operation has been costly. “Trade has been very depressed since, with business down 15%, and we’ve had to pay a lot out in the clean-up process,” he said. “The cost of repairs has been huge; glass-fitting companies are charging up to £8,000 for replacing a pane of glass and £2,000 for a glass panel in an automatic door. Hopefully, insurance will cover this, but until that’s paid out, I’ll have a massive shortfall in cash flow.”
Siva Kandiah of Clarence Convenience Store in Hackney had more than £10,000-worth of stock stolen. He said: “We have been forced to start again. While the public have been generous, we don’t have that much money for stock, so our shelves are quite empty. It’s going to be months before we get back to normal.”
Wholesalers have stepped in to help struggling retailers. Nisa head of commercial operations & member service James Roberts said it had offered extra deliveries and reviewed its credit and ordering requirements to get businesses operational again.
Bestway has been supporting its members by offering security advice and helping them to lodge insurance claims.
Siva said he hadn’t yet had time to make a compensation claim under the Riot Damages Act. “I’ve been putting my heart and soul into getting the business up and running so I haven’t had time for anything else,” he said.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has reassured retailers that insurance premiums will not go up, despite the estimated £200m-worth of damage caused in the riots.
“Insurers are not thinking about next year’s prices; they are focused on paying claims to customers affected as quickly as possible,” an ABI spokeswoman said. “As a result of the police compensation scheme, there is no reason for premiums to have to rise to pay for such a once-in-a-generation event as a riot.”
“I’m worried about premiums in light of the riots. It’s another financial strain as business has been down in the weeks since the riots.”
Minesh Patel, Quick Stop Express, Reeves Corner, Croydon
“Rioters caused £20,000- worth of damage and took £15,000-worth of stock. The past few weeks have been very difficult financially.”
Ajay Bhatia, Machan Express, Birmingham
“My shutter was damaged and will cost £850 to fix. Insurance will cover it, but it will probably mean my premium will increase.” Shivakumar Nawarathinam, Eshop General Stores, Croydon
“Everybody knows insurance premiums will go up that’s what happens after events like this.” Kulbir Kapoor, Best One, Clapham Junction