Channel caught in big freeze


Channel caught in big freeze

Microscope contributor

The channel is battling through the wintry weather conditions that have cloaked most of the country in snow. 

According to the Met Office, Surrey and Hampshire are the worst hit regions of England today following Arctic winds that have blown across the UK this week. 

Computer 2000 has been taking phone and web orders and is still shipping via its central hub but may be forced to send home staff who made it into the Basingstoke office this afternoon if the weather worsens.  

"We will do what we can to satisfy customers' orders but we cannot put staff Health & Safety at risk," Andy Gass, C2000 managing director, told MicroScope, "service levels on the phone will not be 100%." 

The road to Micro P's Basingstoke premises was closed by police this morning so it too is working with a skeletal staff, said purchasing and marketing director Mark Kahr. 

Sales staff at its Accrington branch stepped into the breach with half of the calls being directed to them and the warehouse in Lancashire is now open following its closure for part of yesterday, he said.  

The Bracknell premises of Avnet Technology Solutions has been shut today but Sukh Rayat, EMEA senior vice president of sales said urgent project work was being handled by staff working at home.  

"Everything is more or less shut [across the channel] it is almost like a holiday, and business is very slow as a result," said Rayat.  

Alex Tatham, sales and marketing director at Westcoast, said he was confronted with one and a half feet of snow when arriving at the Theale-based office today and there were some "heroic stories" of staff walking miles to get in. 

He said there was a good chance that some, including himself, would remain in the office overnight as getting home will be near impossible. "I have packed an overnight bag. I think some of us will be staying in the office."  

The weather has "not helped" to kick start the commercial business in 2010 said Andy Field, commercial director at e-tailer Laptops Direct but cold weather was generally good for consumer sales as customers continued to shop online.  

"Shipments are delayed but the situation has not deteriorated to the point where we need to put warnings on the site," he said.  

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) reckons that the cost of a single day of employee absenteeism due to the weather could be at least £230m. 

"Employees make businesses grow and losing key staff because of the weather is very dangerous, particularly in the current environment," said Tom Parry, FPB research manager.

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