An arson attack that caused £250,000 of damage has highlighted garden centres’ vulnerability to damage by criminals.
The emergency services were called to Notcutts Garden Centre in Bagshot, Surrey, shortly before 9pm on the evening before Mothering Sunday — traditionally one of the garden centre’s busiest days.
The centre’s furniture area, food shop and book shop were all destroyed, mainly from smoke damage. The major customer-flow route has also been damaged and the restaurant had to be closed for cleaning. Images caught by the garden centre’s video surveillance system have lead to Adrian Holland, 21, of no fixed abode, being charged with arson and burglary. A court date has yet to be set.
The £250,000 figure accounts only for stock damage, carpeting and the cost of hiring a fire-and-flood specialist to help with the clean up. Repairs to structural damage are likely to push costs to £500,000.
Centre manager Mark Vaughan praised Notcutts staff for the huge cleaning operation to get things running as normally as possible. He said: “Efforts over the past week have been to relocate stock and erect an enclosed walkway to get customers in. And we’ve started to think about the rebuild. It has been a massive effort by my staff.”
It is expected the centre will be operational by the end of July. While the use of CCTV aided the capture of the alleged arsonist it did not prevent the incident from occurring.
Garden Centre Association chairman Steve Myatt said: “I think that garden centres are aware that we all need to be vigilant to our own individual situations.”
Director of Byrkley and Worcester garden centres Neil Gow said: “Security is a constant consideration for us, but we’ve got to get in proportion the risk versus the potential loss. It is a growing risk. As the high-street stores increase security it drives the criminal fraternity to softer targets.”
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