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Entrepreneurs show resilience in the face of the riots

Small firms getting back on their feet, despite damage to premises

Hundreds of small businesses around the country are today assessing the damage of another night of riots – with several finding their premises completely destroyed.

Some firms have been particularly affected by arsonists and looters. For example, in the London borough of Croydon, independent furniture retailer House of Reeves’ flagship store was decimated by fire, after more than a century of trading.

Just a few miles away, in Clapham Junction, fancy dress outlet Party Superstores was ransacked by looters, before being burned to the ground. The store’s staff have since decamped to their sister outlet in nearby Sutton and admit to having no idea when – or if – the Clapham shop will be repaired.

A spokesperson for Party Superstores said:  “The branch in Clapham has gone. Hopefully it will reopen at some stage but we don’t know. The assessors are in at the moment, but we haven’t a clue how much it will cost [to repair the damage].”

Damage and disruption

Countless other firms have suffered minor damage and service disruption. Ealing Broadway, one of London’s busiest business hubs, has been heavily attacked over the last two nights, with rioters smashing windows and stealing from several shops.

Puteri Ismail, of Ealing accountants Weaver Rose, said one of her office’s windows was smashed on Monday night, and the company was forced to close early yesterday – losing up to £1,000 in service fees. Similarly Jamie Kyle, who works at For Art’s Sake, also in Ealing, told Startups: “We’ve had a few smashed windows and a few things stolen. Quite a few ceramics were smashed and prints were taken, but I can’t put a firm value on it. All our remaining prints have been taken back to Hendon, and at the moment we’re just cleaning up. We only sold £40 yesterday.”

The story is similar in Salford, which saw rioting for the first time last night, centring on the city’s main shopping precinct.

A spokesperson for Salford Shopping City said it was too early to comment on the damage, because the clean-up campaign was still in progress. However, an employee of The Money Shop, one of the heaviest-hit firms on the precinct, told Startups:

“We had some damage on our shutters and the glass, and they got into the shop as well.  We closed at 2pm yesterday, but we’re carrying on. The glass outside has been stripped out and head office is sending someone to fix it.”

Small business resilience

Indeed the majority of Britain’s businesses in the affected areas appear determined to carry on trading, with hundreds of small firms showing courage and resilience in the face of ongoing riots.

Almost all the companies interviewed by Startups are open for business today, albeit with boarded up windows. Furthermore, many entrepreneurs are planning to work longer hours over the next few days, to make up the shortfall in business activity during the early part of this week.

Phil McCabe, speaking on behalf of the Forum of Private Business, told Startups that he was “heartened by the determination shown by many small business owners, particularly smaller retailers, to remain resolute in the face of all this.

“The way small businesses are using Twitter to organise clean-up operations, which we’re backing, is a great example of how everyone is coming together to overcome the present adversity.”

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