Watton Produce



The Incident

The fire broke out on the 24th April 2010, causing significant damage to several units in a series of interconnected steel portal framed buildings. All stock was destroyed, and the high-tech machinery and vegetable processing plant inside were left unusable. This was a major concern to Watton Produce, who supply vegetables to major supermarkets and feared significant disruption to trade. The situation was further complicated by the asbestos roof sheeting, which caused contamination problems in addition to the fire damage, and meant no food production could be carried out from the site.

Our Response

We immediately assembled a team of experts covering all the disciplines required to handle the claim, including a chartered accountant, a chartered surveyor and a policy wording specialist. An independent forensic scientist was called in to determine the impact of the fire on the highly sensitive production equipment. The findings proved that the cleaning proposed by the insurer would be insufficient. We also organised inspection reports covering damage done to the plant room, the internal and external cladding, and to the roofing, which enabled us to reach a satisfactory agreement with the insurers regarding the extent of the repairs needed.

The Outcome

Two of the unit’s bays were demolished to floor slab level and completely rebuilt. We arranged and managed a professional team, including consulting structural engineers and quantity surveyors, to carry out the work. During the repairs, we negotiated interim payments which enabled Watton Produce to mitigate their losses and continue trading by sub-contracting the production. The claim we prepared also included a very detailed loss of gross profit claim for the full indemnity period. Thanks to our help, the disruption to the business was minimal, and Watton Produce were able to rebuild and restructure in a way that suited their requirements.