9 Aug 2011

‘Tragedy’ as family firm torched by rioters

The Reeves furniture store, a local landmark dating back to 1867, is left in ruins after rioters attack businesses in Croydon, south London.

Graham Reeves, 52, spoke of his devastation as he surveyed the smouldering remains of the House of Reeves in Croydon.

The owner of a famous south London furniture shop left in ruins by arsonists has vowed to deliver the firm’s last remaining items of stock to his customers.

Graham Reeves, 52, spoke of his devastation as he surveyed the smouldering remains of the House of Reeves in Croydon, a local landmark since his great-great-grandfather opened the business almost 150 years ago.

Firefighters continued to hose down the gutted building on Tuesday morning after arsonists torched it during the widespread disorder that gripped London and other British cities on Tuesday night.

Scotland Yard said a 26-year-old man had been found in a car suffering from gunshot wounds as violence swept through Croydon. He later died.

Read more: Man shot amid Croydon riots

Mr Reeves told Channel 4 News: “It is a tragedy. Five generations of family and our business has absolutely had it. Mindless violence. I don’t know how we’ll get over it.”

The superstore, which was built in 1867 and survived two world wars, was insured, but Mr Reeves said it was not clear whether the business would be able to continue after the loss of most of its stock, its main premises and records.

But he said the firm would try to honour as many of its obligations to customers who have ordered furniture as possible.

Mr Reeves said: “Some of the furniture that was meant to be delivered to our customers is already in the other shop. We moved it over last night.

“Hundreds and hundreds of thousands have all burned, but the deliveries for today – a lot of them are in the other shop, and so we are going to try to deliver them. The fellows are loading a van up as we talk.”

Mr Reeves praised the response of the emergency services, saying they could have done no more to save the business.

“They did the best they could. All you can hope for now is for the community to make it a better place.

“Everyone is so cross and angry right now. Let’s just be friends and let’s work together.”