AN international charity with a major centre in Huddersfield has bounced back after a disastrous fire.
Profits are up and morale is high despite the fire, say Oxfam staff.
Following the devastating blaze that destroyed Oxfam Wastesaver in April, staff worked round the clock to get the site back up and running – and are now reaping the benefits.
The Wastesaver site in Beck Road which provides clothes to Africa, Dakar, Eastern Europe and festival boutiques has seen profits soar.
Production manager Lorraine Needham-Brinley said: “We made £57,000 at Glastonbury, which was fantastic and an increase on last year.
“We do nine major festivals a year and we see a great return from them. Leeds next month is also set to be one of our biggest.”
The new Wastesaver site is operating in a different warehouse, adjacent to the fire-ravaged building on Beck Road.
The original storage facility has been transformed into the textile processing plant and three new units on the same road have been established as the general offices, book barn and storage site.
Lorraine said: “We were lucky it was the royal wedding bank holiday because nobody was injured.
“At the end of the day, yes we’ve lost a building, yes we have lost a few days’ production, but the bottom line is nobody has lost their job and merchandise can be replaced.
“The main aim was to get staff up and working again as soon as possible.
“They have worked so hard, without the machinery. The work is physically more demanding and everyone has pitched in.”
After the fire, the 70 staff spent a month doing half-week shifts before they returned to full time work.
Lorraine had only been working as production manager for a couple of months when she got a phone-call about the fire. She said: “It was awful and it is devastating to know that you will never walk across those floors again.
“My original office is now downstairs where the canteen was, the damage is so extensive.
“It was a perfect disaster, something we wouldn’t have wanted to happen in any shape or form. However what we may have in the future is something much more fit for purpose.
“The machinery had evolved over years in the site and now we are building it up again.”
The site already has two bailers so that clothes can be shipped overseas.
She also praised the contributions of the public: “They have really supported us and helped us get this place up and running with donations.”
Oxfam staff are in talks with their insurance company regarding new machinery and are expected to return to automated production soon.