Norwich businesses bounce back following fires

Two of the biggest fires in Norfolk this year have led to a spirit of camaraderie that has helped businesses to bounce back from crisis.

The major blaze at the Broadland Hams factory on Sweet Briar Industrial Estate in early November caused plumes of smoke to be seen over Norwich – while a suspected gas explosion on Rackheath Industrial Estate was heard as far as 15 miles away in mid-January.

Broadland Hams quickly set up a temporary base in Little Melton, south of Norwich, after its Burnet Road factory was destroyed.

Its 25 staff salvaged as much stock as they could and attention was turned to meeting Christmas orders as fast as possible.

Company director Edward Porter said he was proud of the company's reaction, adding: 'It was a good run-up to Christmas for us, considering the fire happened about six weeks before.

'We are very thankful to our customers for sticking by us because things have probably gone as well as could have been hoped really. It's been a real team effort from staff to customers to suppliers and in the end we have done about 75pc of what we would normally have done in December, so in the circumstances, we could have done a lot worse.'

Meanwhile, all is back to normal on the Rackheath Industrial Estate. The immediate site where KC Cafe had stood before the explosion has now been rebuilt, including the gable end of the two closest units.

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Tilia Properties, which owns the land where the cafe once stood, is intending to build a warehouse on the empty plot in the future but has not yet reached the stage of applying for planning permission.

The community spirit on the industrial estate, that was bolstered in the aftermath of the explosion, has led to plans for a new internet cafe that will include conference rooms for businesses on the site to share their expertise for the collective benefit.

The new unit has received planning permission and will be built close to the new Eco-Education Centre on Wendover Road.

Tilia managing director Nick Hovey said: 'We are hoping to set up a kind of breakfast club and the people we have spoken to are very interested in getting together.

'It's well known that there is a bit of a village atmosphere on the estate and we are looking to bring a bit more of that and to share a bit of knowledge with each other.'

Has your business bounced back from a crisis? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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