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Waverley HQ damaged in oil depot explosion

Published:  23 July, 2008

The headquarters of WaverleyTBS was left badly damaged after the Buncefield oil depot explosion in Hertfordshire on Sunday morning.

As Harpers went to press, the company, one of the biggest

on-trade suppliers in the country, was still waiting to determine the extent of the damage, with the emergency services preventing access to the Hemel Hempstead site, but a spokeswoman admitted that significant damage' had been caused.

A series of explosions at the oil depot began at around 6am on Sunday, with reports that the blasts could be heard up to 100 miles away. Firefighters began to tackle the incident on Monday.

No one from Waverley was injured, and just one employee - a security guard - was on-site at the time. But with the wine trade in the middle of its busiest trading period of the year, the company has had to pass business on to its alternative depots in Birmingham, Felling (near Gateshead) and Dorchester - and the spokeswoman added that in the worst-case scenario, there may be no access to the building until early in the New Year'.

Some 150 people are employed at Waverley's head office and depot, which also houses its national-sales section, administration, telesales, quality assurance, off-trade, and own-label wine departments.

The spokeswoman said: Staff have been relocated to other sites nearby. WaverleyTBS is confident that it now has a contingency plan in place to reduce disruption to a minimum during this crucial trading period.'

The oil depot is co-owned by oil companies Total and Texaco. It supplies petrol to London and the southeast of England, as well as aviation fuel to various airports, including Heathrow.