Flood Ark

Love Handmade Cakes, Leeds

The floods of December 2015 caused devastation across the North of England. In Leeds alone, 1,000 businesses in the city and surrounding West Yorkshire area were affected – including that of our client, Love Handmade Cakes. The company’s factory is situated in close proximity to the River Aire and as the flood waters rose, the site was quickly under threat. Paulla McCann, the company’s Managing Director and Chief Cake Addict explained how she had received a call from the landlord of the factory as she was on her way to a party.

“The landlord called to say the River Aire right beside the factory was flooding and told me to get there quick to move the van. When we arrived the water was rising fast, so much so that we entered by the reception door but had to escape from the other side of the building through a fire exit – it was very scary. We raised a photocopier and lifted the computers up. Thinking on our feet we decided to use the 25 kilo bags of oats like sand bags to plug the doorways, but it was like putting a finger in a dyke, hopeless! We had saved the van but that was it, it was a catastrophe, everything was ruined – the bakery equipment, finished stock and ingredients.”

The flood waters peaked at 4 feet and by the next day the surrounding area had been cordoned off, with access to the site only possible by boat. It was not until the following day that Paulla and her team were able to get back into the premises and begin clearing up with the support of the local community.

“The business could not carry on. We were closed from Boxing Day until the 18th January. We managed, with lots of graft, to get back trading in 25 days- something I’m very proud of. We are 2 miles from Leeds City Centre and the whole community pulled together – the City Council stepped up, there were lots of volunteers who just turned up and helped it was a really good spirit and without them it would have taken much longer. We were able to rent some bakery equipment and another supplier loaned us ovens while we waited for delivery of the new plant. This really helped us get back on our feet and start baking for our customers.”

Like many businesses who have been affected by flooding, Love Handmade Cakes have subsequently struggled to find affordable protection for their premises. Paulla explained that the company could face a bill in the region of a quarter of a million pounds should they ever experience a similar flood in the future.

“Our insurance claim is approaching £1million for the reinstatement and business interruption. To get insurance now we have had to accept a co-insurance policy whereby Love Handmade Cakes accept 20% of any future claim. If the Boxing Day flood incident repeats itself we would have to fund around £200,000. It was critically important for us to do what we could to protect ourselves – that is why we contacted Flood Ark. Having looked at what was available, we chose your system because it offered us quick and effective protection against future floods. The whole experience with Flood Ark was great and it is not often I have been able to say that – from the survey to Jeremy’s visit to your factory to see the barriers in action. When we placed the order you gave us an installation date, stuck to it, calling the day before to confirm. I was especially pleased with the fitters who were very co-operative and made sure the factory could carry on production with the minimum of fuss”