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Flood sign image for preventing flood damage post

Vertella Ltd

Over the last 23 years Vertella has grown into one of the North of England’s leading suppliers of catering disposables, paper hygiene, glassware and crockery, food packaging, chemical and janitorial products.

The company has also continued to expand its separate division of the Vertella Group, which specialises in bespoke printed carrier bag products and retail packaging, within the UK and Channel Islands. It is known for its innovative approach to optimising business branding through its cost effective packaging solutions. 

THE INCIDENT – FLOODING

Vertella’s premises in Lancaster were hit by a major flood on 5th December, 2015 – the result of the nearby river bursting its banks.

The property had four feet of standing water in it for more than 24 hours, which (together with the resulting condensation and damp), ruined around two thirds of the company’s entire stock and submerged all of its office furniture.

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION

The resulting business interruption issues experienced included:

A lack of stock during the company’s busiest time of year: Vertella had to source stock for existing orders, as well as manage new ones. This meant that it had less stock to spread across customers, so only partial orders were fulfilled.

All operations had to be moved to the upstairs boardroom – making working conditions tricky.

Customers were also affected by the flooding and loss of trading; some of these customers ultimately reduced orders with Vertella post-incident, as part of their own mitigation process.

As a result of all of these factors, Vertella’s turnover took a hit – revenues will be down on last year, which – prior to the flood – was a record year. However, in spite of the issues, the company recovered fairly well.

Paul Bentley, managing director at Vertella, said: “Our  team have been fantastic in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and throughout the year. And most of our suppliers have been very helpful in supporting us, and helping to get us back on our feet again with improved terms and quick deliveries of stock.”

WORKING WITH HARRIS BALCOMBE

Vertella appointed the loss assessor, Harris Balcombe, almost immediately after the incident.

From the outset, Harris Balcombe insisted on putting a mitigation strategy into action in order to reduce risk from further flood damage, and to get the business back up and running at capacity as soon as possible. These processes included stripping out the plaster work on all office walls and partitions, to enable the property to naturally – and fully – dry out. After a couple of weeks, dehumidifiers were then installed.

Taking these actions meant that the overall size of the claim that Vertella would eventually go on to make was minimised, helping to speed up the settlement process.

OUTCOMES

In total, it took around six months to settle the claim, from the time it took to dry the property out and complete all refurbishment works. However, the storage facility was operational within two weeks.

Alex Balcombe, director at Harris Balcombe, comments: “The team at Vertella were very proactive; they got on and did what they had to do in order to resume trading as quickly as possible.

“The company would have probably returned to a normal level of trading far more quickly had it not been for the fact that a large number of its clientele – local hotels and restaurants – had also been badly affected by the flooding. Many did not reopen until the summer of 2016.”

Vertella took an early settlement agreement, and the insurer agreed to cover for the loss of profit.

Paul Bentley added: “Harris Balcombe was a tremendous help when it came to dealing with the loss adjusters, in the way they handled our case and brought it to a satisfactory conclusion.

“We found the team’s involvement from the start, and their ability, experience and professionalism in supporting the claim to be excellent.”