A Birmingham IT services firm which saved dozens of jobs when a Marston’s brewery was engulfed by floods has warned of ‘genuine ignorance’ over emergency plans.
Aston-based Phoenix has been a pioneer for the business continuity industry for 25 years, growing into the UK market leader.
But Mike Osborne, managing director of the firm’s business continuity unit which employs 120 people in Birmingham, said many firms still adopted a ‘head in the sand’ mentality over vital contingency plans to avert disaster.
Phoenix played a key role in saving Marston’s Jennings brewery at Cockermouth in Cumbria in November 2009 after floods had devastated the premises. But Mr Osborne said not enough firms had followed the Marston’s example.
Mr Osborne said: “A lot of people say they have got insurance but if it comes to a point where they have to close operations down, it does not matter to the workers if they have got insurance – they will not have a job.
“A lot of firms which suffer a disaster have not thought it through – they go out of business or they lose market share. There are a lot of firms which have not got plans in place; it is just a small fraction that have cover.
“There is genuine ignorance out there, there’s always the ‘it won’t happen to me’ head in the sand mentality.”
In 2009, all the jobs at Marstons’ Jennings brewery were saved by contingency plans undertaken by the brewing company in advance of the floods, which forced its closure for five months after it was deluged by eight feet of water.
Harriet Wood, Business Continuity Co-ordinator at Marston’s, said of the incident: “The whole town was hit by very severe floods but we had the software that Phoenix had provided and because we had that software we were able to cope.
“The whole of the ground floor of the brewery was totally flooded and there was a major concern that we would move production to the Midlands. All the people that worked there lived in Cockermouth; it is a large local employer.
“It was closed for a short period of time and we did have to move production for 16 weeks to Wolverhampton and Burton on Trent. Many of the staff were happy to come in and work at clearing up the site.
“But the systems that we used with Phoenix allowed us to prepare plans and review those plans on a regular basis. It was a very detailed contingency plan.”
Mike Osborne said potential disasters included a wide range of emergencies, from cybercrime, data breaches and losses, fires and floods to terrorism.
“The people in Aston helped Marston’s test a plan before they needed to use it. I am really proud that, as a local Birmingham business, we are the market leader.”