“Be prepared”: General Pants unaffected by fire, CEO says

"Be prepared": General Pants unaffected by fire, CEO says

Talk about good timing: in the 12 months before General Pants CEO Sacha Laing got the call that the company’s head office was on fire, he had tasked the IT team with putting a disaster recovery plan in place.

That plan enabled the business to continue operating virtually without a hitch, despite the head office burning down on Tuesday morning.

“The business is up and trading per usual,” Laing told Inside Retail on Wednesday.

Sacha Laing, General Pants

The retailer has already secured new premises, which a small team is setting up for the arrival of the 90-person head office staff on Monday. In the meantime, employees are working from home or stores on their laptops.

“Our data protocols are all pretty rigorous and we had everything backed up,” he explained.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the disaster recovery plan we had. It meant our operations were unaffected.”

Worst case scenario averted

When Laing first heard that the company’s head office, located in an industrial complex in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria, was on fire, his first thought was for the safety of his team.

His second thought was to understand the state of the damage. And his third was to determine whether there would be an impact the customer or store environment.

“Once I realised the answer to that question was no, I spent time reassuring the team. For some people, it could be quite confronting,” Laing said.

One thing that wasn’t on his mind, however, was the continuity of business operations.

“I guess I was confident knowing we had a rigorous disaster recovery plan in place,” he said.

General Pants’ IT team led the process over the last 12 months. It involved ensuring staff could access key data – such as email, inventory and point of sale – in the event of an unexpected event, such as a fire.

“If there’s a message for my fellow CEOs, it’s be prepared,” Laing said.

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