Fire fries stock

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 09:40 08/10/2013
Up Marketing
Anna Williams

Devastation: A fire at a Blenheim food warehouse on Saturday destroyed 90 per cent of the stock

Up Marketing
Anna Williams
The factory was full of onions, avocados, tomatoes and eggs with other goods in chillers and freezers

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The owners of one of Blenheim's main wholesale food distributors lost almost everything in a fire early on Saturday but are expecting to be back in action this week.

Up Marketing Wholesale Food Distributors owners John Gilbert and Jason Clark have temporarily rented a new property at Manchester St, Riverlands.

The fire was the first knock-back since the pair bought the business in 2006. They planned to be operating on a provisional basis by Thursday.

Mr Gilbert said fire investigators believed the blaze started when a switchboard in the storage area of the Timandra Pl building malfunctioned about 2am.

Most of the stock was destroyed, as well as a van which was parked in the garage. The computer equipment in the office had been damaged by smoke.

A fire door prevented the blaze from spreading into a chiller and a freezer on the other side of the building, but flames crept in from the outside, Mr Gilbert said.

The company supplied most outlets that sold food in Blenheim, including cafes, bars, rest homes, and catering firms, he said.

They would have reduced stock available but expected to be fully operational by Monday.

"Our biggest concern is to maintain our customer base," he said.

He was confident most of their customers would stick by them. Most had been "really supportive with offers of assistance and storage space". Stock that had been ordered before the fire was being held by transport firms. It would take until Thursday for the freezer at the new site to get to the right temperature.

Mr Clark said the fire would not break the business, but it was tough.

"It's pretty devastating to see it," he said. "It's your livelihood."

The building, which they rented, needed to be assessed by the insurance company, which would determine if it was worth being repaired or rebuilt.

Businesses around Blenheim who used the company were feeling the loss.

Watery Mouth Cafe owner Juliet Partington said Up Marketing was the cafe's main supplier.

Staff made a rare trip to the supermarket on Saturday to pick up items they needed after they were told about the fire.

"It is really sad," Ms Partington said. "We've used them since we opened in February 2011, so we obviously have a good relationship with them."

Other wholesale suppliers had stepped in to help until Up Marketing was operating again, she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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