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Glint of hope for flood-hit retailers
Published:  06 August, 2007

Despite the worst floods in living memory, retailers should use the opportunity to improve their businesses, according to James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores.

Many retailers have been feeling the effects after water poured into their businesses, wrecking years of work and causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to forecourts, stores and stock.

Some of the worst hit included Clive Gardner's forecourt in the centre of Gloucester and Guy Warner's Tewkesbury site.

The clean-up operation looks set to be long and painful - the government is promising £46m in aid for flood-hit areas and has applied for £125m from an EU fund for natural disasters.

But it's not all doom and gloom, according to Lowman. "Forecourt operators hit by the freak weather should be thinking about how to use their situation to help improve their businesses and customer relations. When you have incidents that really affect the community, people are forced to think about the things they really value," he said. "And one of those things is their local store.

"Retailers have been through a shared experience with their customers. So for independent retailers there's an opportunity to highlight the role they play in the community.

"They can make people aware of what they're doing to keep products available. It can also sometimes be a good time to make changes or improvements."

But Lowman advises retailers to keep customers informed of any changes: "Get them involved - let them know how things are progressing and what's being done to get back on track."

Meanwhile, the Met Office is predicting things can only get better - and that the worst of the rain is over for the summer. It says the UK can expect a warmer and drier August - and that maybe we can even dig out the sunscreen!