Lancaster laundry business back on its feet after Storm Desmond floods

Members of the Johnsons Apparelmaster production team (with Graham Huddleston in the centre) in the newly refurbished laundry at Lancaster.
Members of the Johnsons Apparelmaster production team (with Graham Huddleston in the centre) in the newly refurbished laundry at Lancaster.

A Lancaster firm is back on its feet – and ready to expand – after staff pulled together to keep everything on track following the Storm Desmond flooding.

Johnsons Apparelmaster, in Lansil Way off Caton Road, is now fully operational, with all staff back in their usual roles after many of them spent several months commuting to Manchester.

Members of the Johnsons Apparelmaster Service and Management Team. From left are Linda Clark (customer service administrator), Richard Dagger (customer service administrator), Danielle Mercer (customer service manager), Sally Reade (office manager), Graham Huddleston (general manager) and James Barker (customer service administrator).

Members of the Johnsons Apparelmaster Service and Management Team. From left are Linda Clark (customer service administrator), Richard Dagger (customer service administrator), Danielle Mercer (customer service manager), Sally Reade (office manager), Graham Huddleston (general manager) and James Barker (customer service administrator).

The firm, which is part of the Johnsons services group, was one of many based along the River Lune to suffer at the hands of the flooding caused by Storm Desmond in December.

General manager Graham Huddleston said: “Some areas of the site filled up to waist deep with water. Our vehicles were under 2ft in the car park.

“We contacted the Manchester plant and they opened on the Sunday to help out.

“Every laundry has a disaster recovery plan, which we initiated to give our customers continuous service.

The flooding at Johnsons Apparelmaster in December.

The flooding at Johnsons Apparelmaster in December.

“For the first week every customer got their delivery one day late. We then worked the following Saturday to catch up.

“A week after the floods, every customer got their delivery on time.”

While part of the Lancaster plant continued to operate, the food hygiene department was transferred to Manchester and Leeds, with staff moved there temporarily until mid-August.

But thanks to a cash injection of £2m, the firm is now back to normal – and will be expanding in the near future as the laundry capacity has increased.

The flooding at Johnsons Apparelmaster in December.

The flooding at Johnsons Apparelmaster in December.

The factory has been fitted out with new equipment, including industrial washing machines worth £60,000 each. The laundry is now able to cope with 75,000 pieces of clothing every week.

The site includes businesses such as Greggs, Warburtons, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce among its customers.

Around 80 members of staff work at the Lancaster site, some of whom have been with the firm for up to 30 years, and Mr Huddleston says it is largely due to their dedication that the plant continued to operate.

“The Lancaster site has an excellent record of customer attention,” he said. “Currently this year, despite the floods, we are the top centre in the company. The people here really care and that’s great. Without their help it would have been a real challenge.”