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Fire-hit firm back bigger and better
12:50pm Friday 1st March 2013 in News
A BUSINESS gutted by one of the largest city fires in living memory has literally risen from the ashes as company bosses rebuild their old warehouse from scratch.
B Smith Packaging lost its warehouse and offices in Stanier Road, off Cotswold Way, Warndon Villages, Worcester, during a major fire nearly five years ago.
Now, in an inspiring tale of teamwork and bulldog spirit, the company is set to open a new £1.2million warehouse and offices on exactly the same spot as the old one.
The steel frame of the 18,000 square feet warehouse and new offices has already been assembled by building contractors EG Carter & Co.
The new premises, which will be finished off with composite steel cladding and brick work, are due to open in September or October.
Andrew Smith is the ow-ner and managing director of the family business which was founded nearly 50 years ago by his late father Bob.
Mr Smith said the business has not only survived, but prospered thanks to the fighting spirit of staff who kept the company going at a time when many other firms would have folded.
“It has been awful – the stress and the hell we went through because of the fire.
“There is no way we would have survived if not for the determination of all the staff. It was teamwork.
“People in the insurance company said most firms would not survive that fire. It has been quite remarkable.”
B Smith Packaging has 17 staff and is, if anything, slightly bigger than it was when the fire hit on April 2, 2008, experiencing a 12 per cent rise in turnover last year. The firm has grown its business which involves the supply of bags made from plastic, paper, fabric and polythene and now boxes for retail. It has expanded into Europe and the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia.
The fire burned for three days and was one of the biggest seen in the city for many years. Up to 100 firefighters tackled the blaze and surrounding buildings, including a nearby nursery, had to be evacuated.
The cause of the blaze is still not known, although an electrical fault is suspected.
The company had to rent an office in Blackpole and a warehouse in Wainwright Road, Warndon Villages, after the fire effectively splitting the firm in two which made operations more difficult and prevented it from expanding.
The bags will be designed and stored at the new warehouse, but are made in the Far East.