x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Food supplier sees quick recovery from fire

A food distribution company that supplies some of the biggest supermarkets and hotels in Dubai resumes deliveries after a fire gutted its main warehouse.

A thick cloud of smoke billows as firefighters battle a blaze at the warehouse of Federal Foods in the Al Quoz Industrial Area last week.
A thick cloud of smoke billows as firefighters battle a blaze at the warehouse of Federal Foods in the Al Quoz Industrial Area last week.

DUBAI // A food distribution company that supplies some of the biggest supermarkets and hotels in the emirate will resume deliveries tomorrow after a fire gutted its main warehouse, a senior figure at the firm said. Umesh Agrawal, the executive director for Federal Foods, said the firm, which supplies the Carrefour and LuLu supermarket chains and hotels including the Burj al Arab and Atlantis, had other facilities throughout the UAE and the Gulf that could take up the slack.

"Our target is to get operations back up and running within two or three days; most hotels and supermarkets have stocks to last at least that long, so while there may be some effect I do not think it will be very large. Our distribution centres in Abu Dhabi and other places will be able to meet demand, and we expect deliveries to resume by Tuesday morning at the latest." Mr Agrawal said 3,000 tonnes of food in cold storage and 3,500 pallets of dried food were lost in the fire on Saturday afternoon, which is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the cold storage warehouse. Two warehouses were burnt to the ground, but the main office building, on the same site in Al Quoz, remained standing. The staff were able to remove essential computer equipment yesterday although the building will need to be fully inspected before it can be used again.

"We hope to get the computer servers up and running this evening, and then we can start to assess the damage. At the moment we know much food was lost, but not exactly what it was or how much it was worth, so we need to go through the inventory," Mr Agrawal said. "We are being given a lot of support by the authorities and our business partners; our suppliers have said they can divert shipments from elsewhere in the GCC, or hold a ship if we need them to, and our customers are being supportive as well."

He expected insurance would cover most of the losses, although he acknowledged it could take some time. He said the company, which had already hired around 150 extra staff this year and planned to hire a further 100, was likely to go ahead with plans to expand. "We are already looking for a new storage facility and will try and get one in the next couple of days," Mr Agrawal said. "We are one of the biggest distributors in the UAE and have operations throughout the GCC; this fire is obviously a setback but it will not be a major one."

gmcclenaghan@thenational.ae