Ocado forced to cancel orders after 'substantial' warehouse fire

Daniel Fowler
February 10, 2019

Ocado said it faced "a reduction in sales growth" after a fire that started Tuesday damaged the facility in Andover, southern England, affecting about one-tenth of its warehousing operations.

A spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the "stop message", which signals the end of an incident, came in at 6.36 a.m. (0636 GMT) on Tuesday.

But now, the whole of Walworth Business Park has been evacuated, according to reports.

Neil Odin, chief fire officer at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters were forced to cut holes in the roof of the warehouse to tackle the blaze because it was not designed for humans to work in.

This comes after a risk of a toxic release or a large cylinder explosion was on the cards. "Due to concerns over the presence of pressurised refrigerants on site, the police conducted a limited evacuation of the immediate area on Wednesday evening".

Ocado said: "As previously announced, there has been substantial damage to the Andover building and its contents".

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"This is obviously a awful event and thankfully no one has been hurt, although some firefighters have been treated for smoke inhalation". These are the times when we take our hats off to the firefighters (and other experts) who tackle such scenes. "Thank you. Stay safe". The company said it has comprehensive insurance for the property, stock and equipment, as well as for business-interruption losses.

Footage shot by the fire service showed the complex, which Ocado calls a customer fulfilment centre (CFC), completely destroyed.

The Andover complex had been providing about 10 percent of the firm's capacity in Britain, using robotic technology that it is selling to grocery retailers around the world.

Ocado added that it was working to minimise disruption for customers by increasing capacity at its three other major United Kingdom facilities.

The online grocer saw its shares tumble by 8% on Wednesday as it said it would see a fall in sales growth until it can shift operations to other warehouses.

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