Flood hit print firm back in business after Boxing Day floods

Specialist print firm ERW Print Finishers is back in business after relocating to new premises at Astra Park industrial estate, off Dewsbury Road, Leeds. The business, which was severely affected by the Boxing Day floods, has relocated from Hunslet with support from Leeds City Council and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The family-owned company, run by father and son team of Barry and Robin Walker, provides specialised finishing services, including die cutting, embossing, folding and gluing, to trade customers in the printing industry across West Yorkshire.

Director of the business Barry Walker said: “The floods nearly destroyed our business. The premises at Goodman Street were under six feet of water and all our equipment and machinery had to be written off, together with stock and work in progress.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Boxing Day floods, grants were paid to businesses like ERW to help with the cost of cleaning up and getting back on their feet. They also received three months automatic business rate relief. To date, support worth £2.8 million has been offered to over 270 flood-hit businesses in Leeds.

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Over eight months on from the devastating floods, it’s encouraging to see a number of businesses have now recovered and are trading normally again. Regrettably some businesses have closed or are still negotiating insurance pay outs, while others have reluctantly taken the decision to relocate.

“Small businesses such as ERW often don’t have huge reserves to fall back on and, as a result, have been particularly vulnerable. Everything possible has therefore been done to support them through and extremely difficult time and I’m delighted we’ve been able to help keep them trading and safeguard jobs.”

While many quickly returned to normal trading, others were more badly affected and the LEP stepped in with grant support to help cover the cost of replacement machinery and equipment, flood resilience measures and – where necessary – relocation.

LEP chair, Roger Marsh OBE, said: “Grants of up to £100,000 were made available through the LEP to cover up to 50% of uninsured capital costs. So far we’ve helped 35 companies across the Leeds City Region, including businesses in Calderdale, Kirklees and Leeds.

“This funding has been used to get businesses back on their feet and operate at full capacity as quickly as possible. Alongside the rapid response support from our local authority partners, I am pleased companies like ERW have been able to reduce any further impact the flood have had on their business.”

ERW received a grant from the LEP’s flood recovery fund to replace key pieces of equipment, including the Sanwa die cutter and Moll folding and gluing machines. The grant also covered relocation and fit out costs on the new premises. As the company was unable to trade from its existing premises, it was given additional rate relief to help with cash flow and a three month rent free period on the new premises from the landlord.

Robin Walker said: “We were covered by flood insurance and had business interruption cover but it would have been impossible to re-establish the business without the support we’ve received from Leeds City Council, the LEP and our new landlord. We’re glad to be back in business.”

The final deadline for applications to the Business Flood Recovery Fund through the LEP is the end of October 2016 and businesses are encouraged to call the LEP growth service to find out more on 0113 348 1818.