By SHIRLEY MAULUDU
DEVASTATING – is how City Pharmacy Ltd Group chairman Mahesh Patel described the destruction of the company’s head office and warehouse in Port Moresby on Sunday night.
The group, which runs a supermarket chain, pharmacy and other businesses around the country, halted the trading of its shares on the POM Stock Exchange yesterday to allow it time to assess the damage to its operations.
Patel said they were working with relevant authorities to find out the cause of the fire at the building in Gerehu.
“There are two sides to it – the fire department (Fire Service) and secondly the insurance company will have their own assessment and the forensic people to look into it.”
They will come back to us with the report on that,” Patel said.
He said the PNG Fire Service “reacted on time”.
“(But) by the time they got there, the blaze was large because as a warehouse, it’s stocked with paper, cartons, boxes and flammable stuff,” Patel said.
Group managing director Joe Barberis said they were notified of the fire at around 10pm on Sunday.
“We learnt that the fire was large and by midnight it had largely destroyed the complex,” Barberis said.
“Our warehouse is lost and some stock. Inside the office, all our records have been lost as well.
“This (yesterday) morning, we got together as a group and started the rebuilding process. We have been speaking to our suppliers, we’ve been talking to our stores which all opened today (yesterday).
“We are talking to our suppliers to keep stock coming in so that our customers will have a full range of choices.
“We are now working on our office requirements, getting our computing system back up and restoring all of our records.
“This will take some time. There will certainly be some challenges for CPL but the team is working extraordinarily well and we are confident that business will be back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Barberis said CPL they were covered by insurance.
“We expect that insurance will cover a lot of the issues,” he said.
The business is still recovering from the loss it suffered when a fire destroyed its new Waigani Central supermarket in Port Moresby in July 2015.
Barberis said the company planned to reopen the shop soon.
“We are just working through with our landlord and our project team to determine when that would start.”