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Auchan - Promoting the safety of hypermarkets in China

We are very pleased to work with Bureau Veritas on ensuring the maximum safety of our hypermarkets in the event of fire.

Mr. Alain AMORETTI

China Construction Manager

BUSINESS CHALLENGE

Maintaining a properly-functioning fire detection and protection system is important both to protect people from injury in the event of a fire and to comply with local regulations and building fire codes. In 2003, having discovered a malfunction in the fire protection system of a recently-completed hypermarket, Auchan recognised the need to inspect this building’s entire system as well as that of its other hypermarkets in China. It sought a trusted partner who could help fulfill the retailer’s ongoing commitment to the safety of its staff and customers.

SOLUTION

Having already worked with Auchan China on construction inspections, Bureau Veritas was a natural choice to oversee the fire protection system testing.  To manage the inspections of this first project, Bureau Veritas assembled a team of six engineers and technicians – two local staff and four contracted experts in the field.  With an average size of 30,000 to 40,000 square meters each, Auchan’s hypermarkets require a sophisticated system for both monitoring and treating fire incidents. Four interlocking systems – fire alarm, fire hydrant, sprinkler, and smoke extraction – must work perfectly in concert to both control the fire and orchestrate efficient evacuation procedures.  In the first test, the Bureau Veritas team simulated fire conditions to verify the alarm system’s interrelated functions, including the proper signaling of the fire location’s ‘address code’ to the control center and the subsequent activation of alarm bells, emergency broadcasting, fire curtains, and other safety protocols.  Next, the fire hydrant and sprinkler systems were each checked for projection and pressure maintenance, and for the automatic activation of their respective pump systems. Lastly, the smoke extraction system was tested for proper damper functioning and extraction rates.  The Bureau Veritas team then submitted a report to Auchan along with recommendations for actions to resolve the defects. Once the problems were remedied, the team returned for final verification.  With the successful completion of this first project, Bureau Veritas proceeded to inspect the 12 other locations.  Then, in 2005, Auchan signed a long-term contract with Bureau Veritas to inspect the fire systems in each newly-constructed store and ensure the annual periodic inspection of all locations.

BENEFITS

With Bureau Veritas in charge of inspecting Auchan’s fire protection systems for all new buildings, the retailer can be confident that all aspects of the system are fully functional, from the moment the doors open for business. Further, annual periodic inspections will ensure the systems’ ongoing integrity. Together, these inspections promote the maximum protection of Auchan’s customers, staff, and premises in the event of fire.

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> Client: AUCHAN

> Client industry: Retail

> Client size:
- 13 hypermarkets in China as of 2005, with 4 planned for 2006.
- 6,300 full-time staff

> Client profile: Headquartered in France with 370 hypermarkets and 665 supermarkets in 11 countries, Auchan is one of the world’s largest retailers. In China, Auchan is the least expensive chain in its catchment areas, in a climate of rising competition.

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