Companies in central London scrambled to implement disaster recovery plans and make arrangements for customers and staff amid the fallout from Thursday’s terror attacks.
Abbey said it had closed all 35 central London branches and that one had been evacuated by the police. The bank also performed a controlled shutdown of its trading floor, but it did not need to switch to its disaster recovery premises.
Lloyds TSB said all its central branches were closed and that staff at its offices were following the advice of authorities to remain inside buildings.
HSBC said it had several branches near, though not in, the areas affected by the blasts, but that none had suffered any damage and there had been no staff casualties.
The biggest problem for all companies remained how to get staff home. Barclays said it would be using river services from its Canary Wharf headquarters and had also hired a number of buses to get staff to outer London train services.
All banks said the focus has been on ensuring all staff are safe and fully informed.
The Association for Payment Clearing Services said banking services were operating normally. However, in central London, branch services were severely disrupted.
Stella Littlewood, human resources director at Arup, the engineering group, said: “Because the message for the moment is to stay where they are, we’re supplying lunch and snacks to everyone in London and have been buying in food [from M&S and Pret a Manger].”
“We have a disaster recovery plan and as soon as we heard about the blasts, everyone jumped into action.”
“We’ve put everything in place for a worst-case scenario in the hope that we won’t have to use it.”
“We’ve doubled our security, done an audit of each of our offices, and we’ve compiled a list of those that are unaccounted for. One of the difficulties in establishing contact is that the mobile networks are proving difficult to use.”
“We’ve requested each of our group leaders worldwide to establish if any people are due to come to London and to ensure that they’re accounted for.”
“Every member of staff has a security id card, and on the back is a telephone number with our relative and employee hotline. We’ve updated the message on it to ensure that staff and their families have the names of our HR staff who they can contact to help them with any concerns.”
Dan Bridgett of the London Chamber of Commerce said: “This is an unpleasant wake up call for companies without continuity plans.”
Tom Rose at Herbert Smith, the legal firm, said: “The most pressing issue is about getting transport for staff and reassuring clients about access to lawyers.”
Mark Owens, marketing director for Hackett, the clothes retailer, said: “It has been quite difficult because mobile phone networks have been down and even landlines have proved problematic in some areas.”