There have been widespread reports of the huge fire that broke out at Ray Mill in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester on Saturday night. At its height, five stories of the mill were on fire and over 50 firefighters were battling to contain the blaze. Miraculously there are no reports of any injuries.
Thanks to the efforts of the emergency services, life for much of the local community is now returning to normal, although there are still road closures in place around the mill. However, the Manchester Evening News reports that “It is believed several dozen businesses and other organisations were based in the mill”: it will clearly not be a normal week in the office for any of these. At the very least organisations who were based in the mill will need temporary work space for a period of time; but some may have suffered much more severe impacts, with one business owner quoted in the paper saying he has lost millions of pounds worth of stock. The effects may also spread wider than those organisations based in the mill, with potential knock-on effects on both their customers and suppliers.
Ironically, smaller organisations like these, who are most vulnerable to disruption, are also least likely to have undertaken any business continuity planning. Business continuity for small businesses need not be expensive or time-consuming, as this case study shows, and can be the difference between survival and failure in situations like these.