Papua New Guinea's Largest Pharmacy Company Hit By Devastating Fire

City Pharmacy Limited's headquarters, warehouse totally destroyed; stores may face medicine shortages

By Rosalyn Albaniel

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 20, 2017) – The country’s largest retail network – City Pharmacy Limited (CPL) group – is recovering from the devastation caused by fire to the firm’s headquarters and warehouse at Gerehu Stage 6 in Moresby Northwest at the weekend.

The fire had started about 10pm on Sunday, and by midnight, the premises was completely gutted despite the attempt by officers from the PNG Fire Service.

This is the second time the company’s operations have suffered loss due to fire – the first major fire happened in 2015 at its retail outlet at Central Waigani, impacting on the firm’s revenue and profitability.

Executives, including the chairman Mahesh Patel and managing director Joe Barberis, confirmed the losses at a news conference yesterday saying that it was early days to confirm the extent of the loss pending the Fire Service and the insurance company investigations.

[PIR editor's note: On June 20, 2017 PNG Post-Courier reported that 'Some City Pharmacy Limited shops in Port Moresby will be facing pressure with medical supplies following the burning down of the Group’s office and warehouse complex at Gerehu on Sunday night, according to managing director Joe Barberis.']

Mr Barberis said the firm had instructed that trading on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange (POMSoX) be halted to avoid speculation and to allow for the company to understand what happened.

He said when these facts have been established the stock exchange and its shareholders would be informed. He added they expected that trading would resume in the next two weeks.

Commenting on the fire, Mr Barberis said the firm had yet to establish what and how the fire started.

He said as a result the firm had lost stock and its records. He said about 300 workers stationed at Gerehu had been displaced but announced that a rebuilding plan was in motion and it business as usual.

“The Stop N Shop supermarkets and Hardware Haus will continue to trade we are talking to our suppliers to keep stock coming in so that our customers will have a full range of choice and we now working on our back office requirements, getting our computing system back up and restoring all of our records. We are confident business will be back to normal as quickly as possible,” Mr Baberis said.

Chairman Mr Patel said the fire was devastating but the important thing was that the staff were intact and they would be housed temporarily in areas where CPL has operations in Waigani Central, Harbour City and the old warehouse in Waigani.

Mr Barberis had extended the firm’s thanks to the business community and its partners including the banks that had been sympathetic and very supportive in offering assistance to help restore normalcy.

PNG Post-Courier
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