Case studies – Fire

Turning a potential disaster into a manageable inconvenience

A well-known ski and mountaineering equipment retailer uses a large warehouse as its central source of supply to its retail outlets, as well as servicing its online business. An electrical fault in a delivery vehicle started a fire during the company’s peak season.

Challenge
The fire had caused heavy smoke to the dispatch area and smoke contamination throughout the entire building; this had affected both stock and structures. As this was the peak season for the company, the warehouse contained £14.5 million worth of high end ski wear stock. The first view of a claims professional was that all the stock should be written off.

Damage assessment
Polygon, a trusted partner to the UK’s leading insurance companies with over forty years’ experience, were asked to conduct an assessment of the fire damaged property and stock. A careful review was undertaken that took into consideration the quality and service expectations of the end customers. Polygon decided that they would be able to recover the majority of the stock and equipment to pre-incident condition, eliminating the heavy smoke odour using industry leading technology and specialist technicians. Due to the extent of the damage in the smoke-logged building, the first consideration was safety. Polygon’s team quickly provided a safe environment for their technicians to work in, that also allowed the business to continue trading with little interruption.

Solution
To get the odour affected stock to pre incident condition, time was of the essence. Polygon’s specialist technicians developed a 24 hour working programme across ten days, splitting the project team over two shifts. This ensured minimal disruption to the business allowing a fast turnaround of orders, without damaging the reputation of the company and in turn losing sales.

Utilising an array of specialist techniques, Polygon cleaned a number of test garments, which were taken home by the retailer’s employees to assess the odour. The results were positive, with everyone reporting that there was no longer any discernible smoke odour. Following the test success, all stock was then subjected to a specialist cleaning process. This included the use of innovative ozone chambers, which Polygon constructed on site. The results were staggering, with 99.9% of the £14.5 million stock that had previously been written off, sold as new through retail outlets. 

Due to Polygon’s flexible work schedule there was barely any delay in processing orders. The stock restoration was the immediate problem; however the building and fixtures had been affected in the fire too. A full decontamination of the business fixtures, fittings and contents was also completed. This included setting up a series of sonic baths on site to decontaminate 3,600 plastic wire baskets that were used to store stock. The cost of replacing these baskets would have been £54,000 but perhaps more importantly the lead time to replace them was six months, so a successful and swift decontamination was a vital alternative.

Results
• Out of £14.5 million of stock only £1,750 was deemed unrestorable (<0.01%). Stock was able to be despatched daily to retail stores maintaining business continuity, retaining customers and fulfilling delivery obligations

• Stock storage units were fully restored saving £54,000 plus potentially six months’ disruption to the business.

Benefits
• By considering the potential business interruption costs as well as the decontamination process, Polygon eliminated a potential £250,000 per
day in business interruption claims

• The entire project was carried out over a 10 day period by deploying 24 hour working over two shifts