1st February, 2016

Geelong Community Unites for the Cotton On Group

Community spirit: the team gets together to repair damage
Team effort: cleaning up together
Working together: assessing the damage from floods

In an example of community spirit at its best, more than 150 Cotton On Group team members and local Geelong business partners have rallied together, working around the clock to repair severe storm damage to the company’s North Geelong head office.

Approximately 1,000 team members were evacuated from the Cotton On Group’s head office on Wednesday afternoon following the extreme weather event which saw excessive runoff from nearby Thompson Road, as well as rooflines and storm water drains, flood parts of the building.

Cotton On Group General Manager, Risk and Compliance, Jacqui Hennessy said some buildings had experienced severe water damage, with flood waters up to 30cm deep.

“The safety and wellbeing of our team is always our greatest priority, so our primary concern was  getting our team members home safely,” Hennessy said. “Once we managed the evacuation process, we quickly assembled our emergency response team and began to identify the damage to our facilities and create a plan to ensure we could continue to support our global network of 1,400 stores in 17 countries.”

“Thanks to the swift action of our emergency response team, volunteers from across the business and local contractors including Gangi Electrics, Restorx, Godfrey Hirst and our Southern Cross Affiliated team, we’ve been able to fast track the recovery process.”

Major switchboards and light fittings have now been replaced, damaged ceilings in 40 offices have been repaired and more than 9,000 sqm of flooring has been removed to allow the building’s foundations to dry. As of 4:00pm Thursday, independent assessors had given two of the buildings the all clear, while the remainder of the buildings have since been assessed and cleared over the weekend.

“The amount of work that took place in the initial 72 hours was incredible, but more than anything it was the way everyone came together, rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help get us back on our feet that has been the most impressive,” said Hennessy.

“Not only have our team members and local trade services pulled together, but within hours of the evacuation, local businesses including the Novotel Geelong and Newtown Football Club had opened their doors, enabling us to set up temporary operations.”

Hennessy added that despite some of the buildings being closed for up to two working days, that it had been great to see the entrepreneurial spirit of the Group’s people shine through to keep the business operational.

“We had team members set up temporary office stations in unaffected buildings, meetings being held in cafes around Geelong and Melbourne, and teams taking the opportunity to spend time helping out in our retail stores.”

“A huge thank you to our team members and everyone in the Geelong community who has helped us recover from the storm damage, we couldn’t have done it without you.”

The Group’s head office resumed normal operations this morning, with it’s 1000 strong team members rallying together to complete the last of the clean up and return their work spaces back to normal working order.

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