FIVE months after floods shut a Hebden Bridge optician  has reopened following an investment of £300,000.
Valli Opticians at Bridge Gate reopened on Tuesday May 31 following extensive investment on internal and structural work of the 2000 square foot building, to ensure the practice is flood proof and to prevent a repeat of 2015’s damaging events.
Since it was forced to close at the end of December 2015 following heavy rain over Christmas the team of seven has been working from other branches of the 14 practice Yorkshire business and ensuring that patients can still access eye healthcare.
Managing Director, Moin Valli explained: “The flooding and subsequent disruption had a profound impact on the team and customers.  Initially we only expected to be closed for a few weeks but it soon became clear we had to look at our business continuity planning to make sure there wasn’t a repetition.
“It gave us an opportunity to update the interior and radically overhaul the customer experience so that customers will see a better and more contemporary practice.  But structurally there has been a virtual rebuild to ensure the building is as flood proof as it can be.
To limit further damage in future:
• all the practice floors have been rebuilt with concrete beam and block and then covered with a waterproof vinyl
• walls were stripped back to a metre high, concreted, then skimmed with a waterproof render,
• all electric sockets have been moved above a metre high,
• high shelving has been fitted in the store room to hold expensive stock in the event of future flooding,
• the furniture and been remade using water resistant MDF,
• the basement kitchen has been fitted with recycled waterproof plastic that will need sanitising rather than scrapping in the event of a future flood
• A pump has been fitted in the basement and it has a secondary power supply in the event of future flooding and power loss
• One room has been completely tanked out to store eye testing equipment
Aesthetically the practice has a more modern communal feel with a long table for multiple dispensing consultations inspired by retail technology businesses.
“It is more open and cleaner with multiple stations for more than one dispensing consultation at a time.  Patients often want a second opinion when choosing spectacle frames and this gives them the chance yet at the same time those who want privacy can have that.”
Moin admitted there had been tough times for the team who had faced numerous challenges.  “Originally we planned to re-open within weeks, once it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, we communicated with the team and patients and started to make arrangements for business continuity,” he said.
“The team have been amazing travelling to other practices and keeping patients informed and supported where possible.  Sadly we will never know the new business we have been missed because the door was closed.  The new practice should ensure it never happens again.”