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London riots: British businesses face 'huge' costs

business Updated: Aug 09, 2011 22:34 IST

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Businesses hit by the riots in London face "huge costs" and images of vandalism beamed across the world could hurt the city's image as it prepares for the 2012 Olympics, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned on Tuesday.

The BRC said it was too early to count the exact cost of the damage but said shops were being closed early across London and some would not open at all.

The BRC said that London's reputation could be hurt.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also said that the damage could be long-term and far-reaching.

From groceries to clothes to electronics, rioters have stripped shelves bare during an orgy of looting across London.

"The violence that we've seen over the last three nights - it's not only against individuals but it's destroying the very fabric of society, not just for now but for years to come and that's why the government has to get a grip of this," the BCC's director general David Frost said.

"We're looking for very clear leadership from the prime minister to say that this wanton vandalism is going to be clamped down on as of today and we will not see any further moves or action as we've seen over recent days."

The BRC said that retailers of all sizes had suffered damage.

"There are huge costs being incurred and employment lost because shops are closing down across the capital early. Some shops won't be opening tomorrow," Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

"The problem is that here we are, we're on the verge of the Olympics when we're hoping to [send] a great message to the world about what a great capital this is to come to.

"We mustn't underestimate the fact that the pictures on our television screens were beamed to the world last night."

Liz Pilgrim, a small business owner from Ealing in West London, described the rioters who looted her premises as "feral rats".

Tesco, a leading supermarket chain, said that about 157 stores in London, Liverpool and Bristol were closed overnight or shortened their opening hours as a precautionary measure, but said that all but one of those stores would be open on Tuesday.

Some 26 stores had "suffered varying degrees of damage", it said.

Sainsbury's also said that it had closed a number of branches early yesterday and that 16 stores had experienced "serious incidents".

Meanwhile, Sony said that UK deliveries of CDs and DVDs could be affected after a fire hits its warehouse in Enfield.