Business

England riots: Small firms still feeling the pinch 100 days on

This week marks 100 days since the riots that took place in England.

In the wake of the devastation, many small businesses were left literally picking up the pieces.

Now, three months on, some of those firms are still feeling the financial after-effects.

Michael Caine owns Raffles clothes shop in Blackheath, London

We're still in the process with the insurers of getting things sorted out. We've employed loss assessors to help us substantiate the claim but I've no idea how long it's going to take.

Image caption Raffles was boarded up for seven weeks after the attack

It took seven weeks to get the shop windows replaced, so we were virtually shut down for two months.

There's been a massive downturn in business and we're just playing catch up. We're not even halfway back to where we were before.

It's not just the seven weeks - we weren't able to replace the stock we lost, as we had to wait until new season stock came in.

In a best case scenario, we'll get paid the full amount by the insurers and then we'll have money for stock.

The worst scenario would be if it doesn't get paid and we won't be able to go forward as a business.

It's been a massive learning curve. Looking at what we insure as a business going forward, we'll be a lot more thoughtful about how we do it.

We've cut people's hours back and we've had to let one person go out of a staff of 10.

The only thing I can pray for is that Christmas trade is buoyant and we don't have any of that excessive snow that we had last year.

The next six to eight weeks are massive and will be make or break.

Ajay Bhatia owns the Machan Express shop and cafe in Birmingham

The first two months were really bad - we had not received any money from anywhere, cash flow was short, and bills were lying pending.

I was literally in a depression.

Initially there was a lot of paperwork. What we were asking for, the insurers slashed it down to one-third of it.

But we also received about £2,000 funding from the Birmingham Mail and £2,000 from the High Street fund.

There's a payment due from the police. The claim has been settled but I've not yet received the money.

Slowly things have started rolling on.

But it will take about six months to get back to where we were before. We've taken on credit to restock the shop and we have to give the money back.

Footfall still hasn't fully recovered. It will take confidence building measures - Birmingham City Council has to do things like promote safety in the city.

The German market starts in two weeks' time and lots of tourists will be coming to Birmingham then.

We'll have to wait for Christmas and see how it goes and then we'll be able to assess things a bit more.

You can see more on Ajay Bhatia's story on Inside Out West Midlands on Monday, 14 November at 19:30 GMT.

Polka Rastovic runs Crispins Wine Bar in Ealing with husband Alex

Business is running, but we're absolutely exhausted because when this happened we had to run around to organise everything to recover. We haven't had a day off since then.

Image caption Polka Rastovic is still waiting for her insurance to pay out

I can't afford to pay some of my staff here, and we're all working long hours.

We still haven't had any money from the insurance. We are fully insured but it takes ages to get it back.

We've had to spend thousands of pounds on repairing the shop front, and we were not able to replace all of the wine which was broken.

It is a struggle because we had to pay all of this out of our own pocket. The bank did offer some money interest free for six months but they asked for so much paperwork and I had no energy to fill it all in.

But some things are irreplaceable. We used to have a nice lampshade in the window but now there's just a bare bulb because I haven't had the time to buy a new shade.

But we are lucky because we have the advantage of having been here almost 30 years. Our customers have been very good and are very loyal so I am optimistic.

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