Saturday 18th Nov 2017 - Logistics Manager

Can’t believe I probably won’t receive my prom dress…

It hardly seems credible that anyone would say something so crass in the wake of a life-threatening disaster, but someone did actually tweet:

“can’t believe I probably won’t receive my prom dress. Thanks alot ASOS”

And then there was: “Thanks asos.. I really wanted to order today aswell. Can we all get free next day delivery pls pls”

So it is worth recapping what has been achieved by ASOS, and its logistics partner Norbert Dentressangle, in the wake of Friday’s fire at the Barnsley distribution centre.

Ten fire engines and 60 fire-fighters were called to the fire which started at 9.50pm on Friday evening.

“The fire involved four floors of the warehouse and the blaze was contained in the area of origin by fire-fighters,” said Simon Rodgers, investigating fire officer for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

More than 500 employees had to be evacuated.  “ASOS staff had a good evacuation process in place which assisted the emergency services and allowed the fire to be brought under control more quickly,” said Rodgers.

The fire was out by 7am the following morning and work started to get the business back up and running. The police are now investigating the possibility that the fire was started deliberately.

The Barnsley DC holds 70 per cent of ASOS’s £159m worth of stock, so a problem there affects the whole business. An initial estimate is that some 20 per cent of the total stock at the site was compromised by fire damage and the sprinkler systems.

Fortunately, no-one was hurt, and none of the technology, automation or structure of the building had been affected by the fire. 

The clean-up process progressed quickly, and by 2am on Monday morning ASOS was able to start taking orders again.

That’s pretty impressive by any standards. There are bound to be lessons in supply chain resilience learnt from this incident, but it is worth stopping for a moment and congratulating all those who worked so hard to get the operation back up and running.