Ocado, Andover warehouse fire force cancellation of orders

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 6th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

The online supermarket Ocado has been forced to cancel orders and warned of a “hit to sales” after a huge fire ripped through its robotic warehouse in Hamphire. 

Around 200 firefighters were deployed to tackle the blaze which began at the Andover facility at 2.44am on Tuesday.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) said four of its firefighters had been treated for slight smoke inhalation as they battled to bring the inferno under control.

Locals were urged to keep their windows and doors shut due to the smoke from the blaze, while the public was also asked to avoid the area.

Ocado said it had been forced to cancel some customer orders because of the fire and that it was “working hard to resume normal service as soon as possible”.

While deliveries in the north appeared to be unaffected, customers in parts of the south seemed likely to be hit by the cancellations. 

The group's shares dropped 6% as it said it would see a fall in sales growth until it can shift operations to other warehouses following the fire, which took more than 24 hours to get under control.

The fire has since been brought under control, and in a statement, the HFRS said: “The Ocado warehouse blaze in Andover was declared a major incident by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“About 200 firefighters were involved in tackling the fire which broke out at 2.44am on February 5.

“Four firefighters have been treated for minor smoke inhalation (and) part of the roof collapsed.

“The fire in the robot-run distribution centre is now under control and it is no longer a major incident.”

The online grocer said in a stock market update: “Unfortunately the fire which started yesterday morning in a corner of the ambient grid was not contained as we believed, and last night expanded.

“Whilst we are informed by the fire brigade that it is now under control, during the night part of the roof collapsed and there has been substantial damage to the majority of the building and its contents.

“Once we have had time to assess the damage and prepare a plan to return the customer fulfilment centre to operation, we will update further as appropriate.

“As Andover was providing approximately 10% of our current capacity, as a result of this incident there will be a constraint on our ability to meet our growing customer demand and there will be a reduction in sales growth until we can increase capacity elsewhere.”

Pictures from the scene taken in the early hours show the sky glowing orange due to the flames and smoke billowing from the building. 

One resident tweeted during the blaze: “Just streets away – the noise, heat, smell and light pouring from the Ocado warehouse is frighteningly real.

“120+ firefighters are risking their lives tackling the blaze. Makes you truly appreciate the brave men and women of the Fire Service. Thank you. Stay safe”.

By  Gareth Davies