Distributor reassures resellers after warehouse fire

Wholesaler urges patience among customers following inevitable delivery delays.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  December 9, 2007

Components distributor Empa has assured resellers that it will do everything it can to minimise disruption following a fire at its main warehouse in Jebel Ali. The fire, which occurred on Friday afternoon, has led to a delay in some customers receiving their orders due to the large volume of stock destroyed by the blaze.

An internal ‘crisis management' team is currently working to address any concerns that customers have, but Empa has warned resellers who placed orders towards the end of last week to expect a temporary hold-up with their consignments.

"We had some shipments that we were supposed to move on Sunday so these are definitely not going to go and there will be a small delay," said Rahb Hamidaddin, president at the distributor. "This is something that we are looking at very closely to ensure that we don't cause any unnecessary interruptions to our customers. We are also looking at all purchase orders and invoices that were on order already and will try to fulfil these first and give them priority as soon as we are back online."

Although the fire did not reach Empa's adjacent sales office, the company is still in the process of getting its IT infrastructure up and running again, which includes tests to ensure it has not suffered any data loss from the incident.

However, Hamidaddin is adamant the firm will be operational before the end of the week and asked customers to bear with it as it sorts itself out. "I'm really moved and touched by the number of calls of support and offers of help from our customers," he said. "It is something that we will put behind us and move forward. We are very determined that in as short a time as possible we will be back in full swing."

Empa has contacted all of its primary vendor partners to update them on the situation. They have been informed that as soon as its systems are back online Empa will accept new shipments already en-route and begin replenishing the stocks that were burned.

Although Empa operates two warehouses in Jebel Ali, it is thought that the majority of its vendor partners all lost some inventory in the blaze because the damaged facility served as its mother hub for the region.

Empa - which claims it has full insurance cover - works with a number of brands including Asus, Biostar, Kingston, LaCie, MSI, Philips, and SimpleTech.

One of the biggest casualties is rumoured to be Intel, which market sources claim had more than US$5m worth of stock wiped out by the fire.

However, Hamidaddin said it was still too early to assess the damage. "I cannot confirm or deny that because we conduct a physical audit every Thursday and we also have our system information so we have to look at what came in and what left on that last day. And sometimes when you are talking about Intel, it can have a movement of US$2m to US$3 in one day so I really cannot confirm that figure at this time. We will have to wait and see."

Ironically the fire occurred just weeks before Empa planned to begin transferring stock to an alternative facility elsewhere in Jebel Ali that forms part of a new group headquarters. Some staff have already began working at the new premises.

Members of the Channel Middle East team who visited the fire site yesterday saw pallets containing damaged products being removed by cranes. Officials thought to be from the police, fire service and JAFZA were also inspecting the site. An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the blaze.

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