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Retailers battle Storm Dennis

Fashion retailers felt the impact of “horrific” weather conditions for the second week in a row as Storm Dennis hit last weekend.

Areas including Worcestershire, the Scottish Borders and Herefordshire were the worst affected.

Simon Cotton, chief executive of Johnstons of Elgin, which has a mill in Hawick in the Scottish borders, said: “There has been considerable flood damage in Hawick, and a hotel along the river from our mill collapsed into the river.

“Floodwaters peaked on Saturday evening. A team of 20 [stuff] left their homes to raise products off the ground level and sandbagged anywhere water was likely to enter the mill and shop. We fully anticipated the river would be coming in.” 

Fortunately, Johnstons of Elgin “avoided a serious catastrophe” as the tide turned downstream.

Cotton added: “Flood works have been planned for Hawick. However, we still have many nervous months before they will offer us any kind of protection.” 

Kate Oliver, manager for menswear independent Pockets in Worcester, expects the impact of the storm will “get worse”: “Lots of streets running up to the river [Severn] are closed. We’ve been affected by flood before and roads have been shut in and out of the city. It affects us massively - footfall is completely non-existent and sales are impacted.” 

Trading was also slow for Hertford-based womenswear independent The Women’s Society, said store manager Silvana Newton: “Trading has been incredibly slow since Thursday –- on Sunday we only had one customer.” 

James Jefferies, head of business at Cardiff footwear independent The Brogue Trader, said: “Trade was slower the past two weekends. The weather has had a massive effect on the local Cardiff community.

“We’re still waiting for the effects of Dennis to play out, so we don’t know how much of an impact it’s had on sales.” 

Another independent based in Hawick, which has been hit by flooding, told Drapers: “A lot of shops closed early. We’re quite high up so have been OK in terms of flooding, but others haven’t been as lucky.

“The water levels came up and broke the banks onto the roads, so they were closed and town was quiet with people preparing against the flood. Hawick tends to be badly affected by weather like this, but there’s always flood warnings for those in high risk areas.” 

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