Supermarkets and the Risks of Flooding and Extreme Weather

Posted by Alastair Robb on

Commercial Companies with a large property estate need to comprehensively understand and manage long term and dynamic risks from flooding and extreme weather. Any investment in mitigation must be guided by a common sense prioritisation model, based on the commercial value of the location, the levels of risk and what practically can be done to mitigate that risk.

National retailers, in particular, individual Supermarket chains, have hundreds to thousands of properties across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. Due to their very location, a number of locations are subject to very high risk from flooding by rivers and seas and flooding by surface water. Site landscaping and in particular car parks can also exacerbate risks of surface water flooding.

Asda, Lidl and Morrisons are three well known UK Supermarket chains. A superficial review of historical records for the period of 2012 to 2015, reveals a number of flooding incidents suffered by each chain.

Table showing flood incidents experienced 2012 to 2015 by Asda, Morrisons and Lidl

On the basis of these historical incidents and taking a sample of 50 stores from each chain and modelling their associated flood risk, it can be assessed that a common 1.5% to 2% of the total of each chain’s stores are subject to both very high risk of flooding from rivers and seas and very high risk of flooding from surface water.

Anticipated Asda, Lidl and Morrisons Stores at High Risk of Flooding by Rivers and Seas and by Surface Water

The history of supermarket flooding incidents shows a common factor for all supermarket chains – costs. Flooding by rivers and seas is often catastrophic to a location, resulting in closure for days to weeks, with significant loss of revenue, stock loss, in store infrastructure write offs, clean up and site rehabilitation costs, together with the costs of any long and short term flood mitigation undertaken. Furthermore, location specific insurance costs will also undoubtedly rise. Flooding by surface water has proved to be more frequent than flooding by rivers and seas and of a much shorter duration. However, closure for a number of hours is a common consequence, together with some stock loss.

Asda Rochdale Flooded 26 December 2015

Flooding and extreme weather risks to individual locations can be managed by a data led approach to the problem and using analysed information to inform prioritisation of investment in assets. There are a multitude of data sources which can be integrated and processed to provide a real time common operating picture to manage dynamic risk. A clear understanding of responsibilities and actions to be taken during evolving crisis situations are great contributors to successful risk management.

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