Wine hiccups | Fire safety inspections may cause delivery delays

By Jim Boyce |  A dormitory fire that killed 19 people in Beijing earlier this week, and underscored the harsh living conditions of many of the city’s workers, has resulted in fire safety inspections across the capital. State media Global Times has reported on a crackdown on illegally built housing in the wake of the fire. WeChat groups are full of talk of dormitories being closed, migrant workers leaving for their home cities, and bars and restaurants that violate standards facing at least temporary closure.

Several wine importers say access to their warehouses has also been curtailed due to the campaign, which will reportedly continue until the end of December. One is seeking storage space to take advantage of the current landlord’s offer of “one move” to relocate the wine. Another has a container just released from Customs and no way to move it into the current warehouse, and is thus also looking for temporary space.

While fire safety might seem laughable when talking about a warehouse essentially full of bottled liquid, there have been high-profile disasters, including that of ASC Fine Wines and CHEERS. The loss of all of its stock to fire in 2010 led CHEERS, during a three-month wait for new supplies, to shift its focus from B2B to consumers.

In any case, such swift and all-encompassing reactions toward tragedies such as the dormitory fire are not atypical and everyone, including wine companies, will need to face the campaign as best they can.

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