Arsonists and burglars have targeted the same town centre shop in Huddersfield within days.
But staff at The Works were welcoming customers within hours of carrying out a huge clean-up operation at their New Street premises. Management have praised their ‘Dunkirk spirit’ and insist they will not be driven out of town.
The arson attack and break-in happened as The Works moved to bigger refurbished premises formerly occupied by Waterstones.
But shortly before Christmas a window was smashed and the front of the store set on fire at 2am.
“The fire brigade said it was minutes away from burning down to the ground,” said divisional Works manager Richard Palmer. “They put it out and then the team spent the whole night there making it safe and cleaning up. We were trading by 10.30am. That shows the Dunkirk spirit of the team.”
A break-in followed on December 28, with burglars gaining entry through the shop’s roof. Offices were ransacked, computer equipment was wrecked, the store’s safe smashed open and “a significant amount of cash” from the store’s Christmas trade was taken.
Shocked staff led by manager Claire Sarnecki immediately began a major clean-up operation.
“The team came in to that having had the arson attack just beforehand,” said Mr Palmer. “It was gutting for them but we got trading by mid-morning again.
“It’s upsetting and frustrating for everyone, for staff and our loyal customers. It’s also costly. We have invested heavily in a shop-fit for the new premises. It’s a stand-out shop that has brought some life and vibrancy to New Street.
“We will carry on. The way we got up and running so soon after the attacks was a real credit to the team.”
The Works’ previous Huddersfield store was one of the company’s oldest, trading for more than 15 years. Mr Palmer said there was no suggestion that the two attacks were related.
He added: “We are still to have the fire damage repaired but we are not going to close because of this – quite the opposite. We will take measures to strengthen security around the store.
“New Street was pretty run down before this. When a company comes in and spends a lot of money on it, it’s dispiriting that people choose to do that to us.
“We just want to make sure that staff and customers are safe and we can trade in Huddersfield without these distractions.”
It is understood that West Yorkshire Police has someone in custody for the Boxing Day break-in.