UK Retailers: Managing Flood and Extreme Weather Risks

Posted by Alastair Robb on

Retail represents 41% of all Commercial Property assets in the UK. Supermarkets are the majority principal type of user, with the big four of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons dominating, although Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose have all gained market share in recent years.

All Supermarkets have common factors of numerous sites forming their property estate, geographically spread across all of the United Kingdom. Managing flood and extreme weather risks to these estates is a considerable challenge, with climate change bringing notable consequences of increased torrential rainfall and subsequent surface water flooding. In 2016, Tesco suffered at least six incidents of store closed due to flash flooding following very heavy rainfall.

Tesco Redruth after Flash Flood from Torrential Rain


The profusion of data sources, available to be integrated and processed, present a tremendous opportunity for Retailers to be pro-active and take a digitised, comprehensive approach to understanding and mitigating flood and extreme weather risk.

From Stonehaven Technology’s experience of working with retailers in managing flood and extreme weather risk, we have the following recommendations:

  • Identify and understand risk of flooding by rivers and seas, by surface water and groundwater across all locations through the use of data and historical analysis.
  • Where data suggests a high overall risk for individual sites, hire surveyors and conduct specialist flood surveys. Understand and manage the results of the surveys. Ensure they are incorporated into a corporate information management system.


Understand Location Specific Risk


  • Accept that for one or two locations, the most cost effective and practical action will be to accept water ingress. However, plan in detail how to save the stock and rehearse. If water ingress is not an acceptable option, sell the site.
  • From the results of flooding data, flood surveys, historical experience, understanding the commercial value of individual location and through a thorough understanding of flood defences, build and / or procure site specific long term and short term flood defences, for selected locations.
  • Know exactly what defences are where, how they are deployed, where to and what they do, who deploys them, what time it takes to deploy them and what consequences are likely from their deployment.


Example of Scenario Planning for Deployable Short Term Flood Defences at a UK Supermarket


  •  Constantly monitor flood alerts, river gauges, weather alerts, weather forecasts and rainfall rate forecasts and their applicability across the estate.


Intelligent Use of Weather Observations and Forecasts


  • Use this information to inform staff and logistic vehicles on the state of routes to and from site locations.
  • Ensure that general management and facilities management roles and responsibilities regarding flooding are clearly articulated and that resilient procedures are in place to disseminate timely and accurate information to the right people.
  • In the build-up to a crisis and during a crisis, use social media to achieve the most comprehensive possible understanding of the situation.


Intelligent Use of Social Media with Drone Image taken from Twitter


  • In a crisis situation, engage with staff who are directly experiencing the crisis, provide as much timely and accurate information as possible and both take and encourage the taking of decisive actions.


Stonehaven Technology has developed a comprehensive Flood and Extreme Weather Risk Management Application, which is currently in use with selected UK retailers. This application provides users with the tools and processed sources of information to constantly understand risk to their properties and make best informed decisions to mitigate risk. We welcome any requests to view a demonstration version.

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