William Gibbons back in production after fire

Jo Francis
Friday, November 28, 2014

William Gibbons joint managing director Mark Gibbons has praised the “superb” response of firefighters and the firm’s employees after a fire destroyed one of the company’s web presses.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 12:40am yesterday morning (27 November) after a fire broke out on one of its eight Komori System 38 web presses.

The “severe” fire spread to the roof of the unit and West Midlands Fire Service sent eight fire engines and a hydraulic platform to tackle the blaze, which was extinguished by 3:09am.

Gibbons told PrintWeek: “Nobody was hurt, and that’s the most important thing. West Midlands Fire Service were absolutely superb and I cannot praise them enough, they have kept the business alive.”

A full night shift had been at work at the time. The company employs 486 staff.

“Our fabulous workforce are dedicated beyond belief, and we got back up and running yesterday. We have an amazing company full of amazing people,” Gibbons said.

“The majority of the company is back in production, and we intend to be back in full production as soon as possible bar that one press. The important thing now is to get William Gibbons running for our customer base and for our employees,” he added.

The £39.7m turnover firm operates from a number of industrial units at its site in Willenhall, near Wolverhampton. One unit was damaged by the fire and another had moderate smoke-logging, according to the fire service.

A fire service spokesman said: “Because of the excellent information provided by the owner of the business we were able to modify the way we tackled the fire, and how we used the hydraulic platform.”

After the blaze was brought under control, the fire service tweeted: “Planetary Rd is shut and 30 fire fighters are still on the scene. Great job guys, well done, our rapid interventions have saved the business.”

Gibbons said the firm’s disaster recovery plan had kicked in immediately. “Everything we’d planned for in the worst-case scenario has worked. It shows it is well worth putting the time and effort into this sort of plan.”

Williams Gibbons runs eight System 38 16pp webs and is Komori’s single-biggest UK customer.

Komori UK managing director Neil Sutton said: “We are doing everything we can to help Mark and David get back up and running and to support them at this difficult time. The biggest thing is no-one was hurt. Machines can be fixed, people can't.”

A forensic team was on site yesterday trying to establish the cause of the fire.

Family-owned William Gibbons was established more than 130 years ago. The printer's customers include Immediate Media and Future Publishing.


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