A fire started by looters in the normally sleepy outer London suburb of Enfield has brought the UK’s independent record labels to their knees after a 20,000 square metre warehouse full of stock owned by Sony Music and independent label distributor PIAS Group was destroyed. PIAS is the UK’s largest independent sales, marketing and distribution company, representing not just music labels but also film companies with the distribution of DVD stock. Some of the labels believed to have been affected are Domino, XL Records, WARP and Beggars Banquet, although as thy represent some of the largest clients of PIAS they are not as badly affected as they store stock in a number of locations. Much smaller indies who consolidated all their stock in the one location face potentially catastrophic consequences.

A statement by PIAS posted to Twitter after their website crashed due to the voume of traffic read

Our site is struggling to cope with all the web traffic, so here is the short statement posted to it: “There was a fire last night at the SonyDADC warehouse which services the physical distribution for PIAS in the UK and Ireland. PIAS is working closely with SonyDADC who are implementing their emergency plans. PIAS’s UK offices in London and all other areas of our business are unaffected. More information will be communicated shortly to all our labels and partners”

Although much of the stock for the larger indies would be covered by insurance, the biggest challenge facing the smaller indie labels is replenishing stock, many of whom are uninsured and rely on physical sales of limited run CDs and DVDs to maintain cash flow. Local Aussie label Alberts is distributed by PIAS in the UK and local band Stonefield had their debut EP released through indie label Flock in the UK who used the same distributor.