Ocado cancels orders after warehouse fire
Ocado was forced to cancel orders after a fire broke out at the company’s largest warehouse.
The fire broke out on Friday evening after three robots used to process orders collided, the FTSE 100 company said.
Around 100 firefighters and 15 firefighters were called to the scene in Erith, south-east London, to tackle the blaze.
“The blaze was deep-rooted and was a difficult operation,” the London Fire Department said.
More than 800 workers were evacuated from the facility during the fire, but no one was injured.
Ocado is now facing loss of access to parts of its largest warehouse, which is causing it to struggle to meet demand for grocery orders. It uses a grid system where robots automatically pick and pack orders.
“Due to a major incident at our warehouse in Erith, some of our orders were canceled,” a spokesperson said.
“While we expect some disruption to operations, we are working to restore normal service as soon as possible.”
The company expects the facility to resume operations in the coming week. He said the damage affected less than 1 pc of the robot’s grid and was contained by “planned fire mitigation measures.”
The incident comes after a major fire broke out at its Andover, Hampshire factory in February 2019 that took more than 24 hours to bring under control and four days to completely extinguish.
Although it only resulted in a 2% drop in sales forecast, it contributed to Ocado’s half-year loss of £ 143million. He went on to receive around £ 90million in insurance payouts last year following the fire caused by one of the pickup robots burning while recharging.
Another incident occurred at Erith’s warehouse in 2019 when an industrial bin caught fire.
Earlier this month, Marks & Spencer chairman Archie Norman said Ocado is still struggling to meet customer demand almost a year after moving from Waitrose to M&S products.
He said at the company’s annual meeting that while M&S is happy with “where we are, I’m not saying there aren’t any issues”.
“Working in a joint venture, you have to put a little more work into it to make sure you’re aligned,” Norman added.
“We need to position our [food] business law for [online], and make sure Ocado has the right growth in place. It doesn’t cover a large part of the country, there is a lot of investment because of it.