Fire-hit Norwich firm reopens after blaze

Steve DownesA Norwich business that was destroyed by a shock blaze has emerged from the flames to reopen with new, improved facilities.Steve Downes

A Norwich business that was destroyed by a shock blaze has emerged from the flames to reopen with new, improved facilities.

The 28 employees of Nationwide Crash Repair were forced to travel for seven months to work in Boston, Peterborough, Ipswich and Lincoln after the firm's workshop was wrecked by a fire on September 2 last year.

And more than 1,000 cars were transported from Norwich to the UK firm's repair centre in Boston to keep the business going while a new facility was built.

Last month, the employees were back in Norwich as the revamped centre reopened.

And yesterday, employees and managers joined together for an open day to celebrate the official reopening of the business, which is on Lansdowne Road, at the Fifers Lane Industrial Estate in Hellesdon.

The site boasts all new state-of-the-art equipment, including two spray booths, four ramps and 32 repair bays in addition to new administration offices and a new customer reception area.

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Paul Gray, general manager, said: 'On the night of the fire, there were 28 cars in the workshop. Sixteen were written off. The centre was closed there and then.

'Our staff had to work out of various branches, mainly Boston in Lincolnshire. The lads who worked there had to stay over for four nights each week.'

He added: 'It was tough, no doubt about it. Fortunately we were able to keep the offices functional at the Norwich site. We were still estimating and collecting there, then using a six-car transporter to move vehicles to Boston for the work.

'It was the commitment of the team here that enabled us to do this. I couldn't have asked any more of the lads and ladies.'

He said it was 'absolutely amazing' to be back in Norwich, were staff were now working with the 'best facilities around'.

He said: 'This is the newest body shop in the country and the quality of work and levels of customer service we deliver will reflect that.'

Angela Beales, a customer service adviser at the site, said: 'This was always a great place to work, but it is wonderful to have everything brand new. It makes it a really exciting place to work.'

Chris Parker, the site's workshop controller, said: 'The combination of brand new equipment and the outstanding skills of our technicians will make the site unbeatable in terms of the speed and quality of repairs we do here.'

t Do you have a business success story to share? Call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email