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Retailers respond to riots

Retailers began to pick up the pieces today after last night’s wide-spread riots across London, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.

“I’m depressed,” said Peter Cowgill, chief executive at JD Sports, one of the worst affected retailers with 14 stores damaged, including an almost totally destroyed branch at Tottenham and stores in Wood Green, Clapham Junction, Brixton and Woolwich, Birmingham affected.

Cowgill estimated that the damage would run “in to the millions” to repair, adding: “It’s damage, lost stock and lost profits, plus the impact on long-term trade.”

Although, he joked: “The only positive thing I can glean is that it shows what an aspirational retailer we are, that they want to steal our stuff.”

Another retailer badly affected was department store chain Debenhams, whose Clapham Junction branch was at the heart of destruction. “Our priority is the safety of our staff. Thankfully no one was hurt. We are working with the police and at the moment that store remains closed,” a spokeswoman said.

Utility clothing retailer Blacks Leisure Group, whose branch is yards from Debenhams in Clapham Junction, was also at the centre of events. “We had two members of staff on site in the office upstairs when the rioting occurred, so it was very frightening. They broke the glass and came in. Over 40 percent of our stock is gone, particularly high value clothing by performance outerwear brands The North Face and Berghaus,” said Regional Director Caroline Langridge, Regional Director for the company. “They were stealing to order. It was incredible.”

Langridge also expressed disappointment at the lack of Police presence in the Clapham area. “There was no-one there for at least two hours. Not a sniff. Staff made two calls to police but were trapped upstairs from 9 pm until about 11.30.”

Amid reports of renewed rioting this evening many retailers said they were already taking security precautions. “We will have a security guard on site,” said Langridge of the Clapham store. Elsewhere retailers said they were shutting up early. Anthony Thompson, chief executive of casual clothing chain Fat Face, which has branches in Clapham, Ealing and Islington said: “So far we have been on the periphery so we have been lucky but have a contingency plan in case anything further occurs. We are also issuing guidelines for sensible closing times and securing the stores.”

See Drapers footage of an eyewitness account from the riots here

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