One of the wettest springs on record may have dampened spirits but one Midland firm plans to profit from the increased flood threat.
UK Flood Barriers – whose products include defences for homes and riverbanks – has already seen its turnover soar to £2.3 million since its inception following the floods of 2007.
The company, based in Droitwitch, was founded by Frank Kelly and Sarah Vaughan, who worked in the house-building sector and saw a gap in the market to make homes flood proof.
Managing director Ms Vaughan said: “We have actually brought back manufacturing from the Far East to the UK.
“We had a very long lead time and we were beginning to question quality and cost of shipping – 18 months ago a ship the product was on was hijacked.
“We make the flood barriers here and work with Chess Plastics, also in Droitwitch, together with another company Big Bear Plastic Products, Lightning Aerospace in Coventry and Glassfibre Solutions in Kidderminster to make a self closing flood barrier.
“If we want to have a meeting we are only a couple of minutes away at most. It makes sense to work on a collaborative basis. Getting them made locally means we can keep control on supply chain and quality.”
UKFB manufactures and supplies passive flood defences that require no human intervention following installation and is the distribution partner for Global Flood Defence Systems in the UK, with associates in Europe and Thailand. It does a mixture of business for local authorities, the Environment Agency and private clients, and has seen staff numbers grow to 36 ahead of its expansion into a new 4,000 sq ft premises.
“We have 14 products out on the market and eight more out to patent,” Ms Vaughan said. “We have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds protecting our intellectual property and we use a local firm of patent attorneys for that.”
The Government’s agreement with the Association of British Insurers to provide cover for flooding is due to expire in June 2013.
“If the Government stops providing sufficient funding into flood defences the ABI will stop covering floods,” Ms Vaughan said.
“That is going to leave about 200,000 home-owners without flood cover.”
Around two-thirds of flood related insurance claims are caused by issues associated with surface water, according to AXA.
In April the Midlands received 250 per cent of its long term average (LTA) rainfall – making it the second wettest April on record since 1910.
Some of the region’s rivers reached dangerously high levels, with the Severn basin receiving 42 per cent of LTA rainfall and the Trent basin 27 per cent, after just the first eight days of May.
Ms Vaughan added: “The Environment Agency has warned that flash floods may be worse this year because the ground is so dry due to the drought so this is the wake-up call for residents to prepare for the worst.”