Orchid specialist Riley Growers back in business after £1m fire loss

A nursery that lost orchids worth £1m in a devastating fire on New Year's Eve last year will be back in business in time for autumn.

Riley Growers, the country's largest specialist grower of Phalaenopsis, lost 225,000 plants when fire tore through its 6,600sqm glasshouse. The conflagration gutted the greenhouse, smashing a quarter of the glass in the process.

However, owners Tim and Marie Riley are now on the fast track to recovery and aim to be growing again within a couple of weeks.

Marie Riley said: "At first we were a bit despondent, but you can't sit around and focus on the past. We have ordered stock that should arrive between weeks 11 and 16 and we're getting some part-grown stock so we can get back in business as soon as possible."

The company expects to be trading normally by week 43. It is insured by the NFU and, though the details of the claim are still under review, loss of earnings coverage has already been agreed.

Riley said they were working with assessors but the process was moving quickly and they were very happy with the progress made.

The company had been dealing with an electrical problem in the office when the fire broke out, so was unable to turn on the irrigation. Staff attended the small blaze with extinguishers but were forced to call the emergency services when it quickly spread.

Marie Riley said they had thought long and hard about whether the company could recover. The firm had been on the verge of developing new lines to add to the more than 200 varieties that it already grows.

Although the fire forced the nursery to change its plans, Riley Growers said it would come back with some new varieties.

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