A fire at the distribution centre of speciality wholesaler Marigold Health Foods (MHF) in late September is continuing to disrupt deliveries for retailers.

In an update on its website last month, MHF said it was temporarily stopping cash and carry and delivered-wholesale services following the blaze at the north London site on 28 September. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Alongside own-label products, MHF also distributes speciality products in the organic and free-from categories.

Mehmet Guzel, of Simply Fresh Bethnal Green in East London, told betterRetailing he was ordering £15,000 of stock from MHF per month and was forced to open accounts with other wholesalers because of the disruption.

“We had major availability issues because of the fire, particularly with our chilled section and products such as tofu and other vegan foods.

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“We’ve got through the issues now. It wasn’t ideal but I had to open up accounts with other wholesalers, such as Cotswold Fayre, Tree of Life and other companies, to try to resolve issues.

He added: “I used to get discounts because I was ordering £15,000 worth of stock every month, but I can’t get these anymore because I’m a new account holder with these suppliers. The disruption has had an impact on my overall store margins as well.”

According to Guzel, MHF’s rival wholesalers have also experienced availability issues as a result of receiving additional business from MHF customers. “There’s been high demand for products because retailers have been looking for alternative suppliers and some of the wholesalers have been unable to meet the increase in demand.”

Cotswold Fayre chief executive Paul Hargreaves said: “We’ve gone from two chilled deliveries throughout London a week to three because of the fire disrupting MHF’s distribution.”

Robin Holiday, managing director of organic and health food wholesaler CLF, added: “During this period of business interruption, there may be challenges for CLF in its support of Marigold’s customers.

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“With the shift in demand to us – especially with chilled items – we would please ask for everyone’s patience at this time.”

In its update, MHF said: “Our distribution business has been significantly interrupted. We are making efforts to get up and running again, however, it will take some time.

“We have taken temporary offices in north London with the immediate aim of meeting our financial obligations to our staff and suppliers as well as collecting monies owed to us by customers.”

The company noted that distribution of its own-label product was not disrupted by the fire. It added: “The Marigold brand of food is able to continue as normal. Most of that stockholding was in a separate location. Marigold brand orders are still able to be taken and processed via the usual channels.”

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