'Our crash course in lighting led to a 96-store roll-out'

The Maplin store at the Beehive Centre in Cambridge

When Jonathan England, head of property at Maplin and Steven Hewison, lead project manager, first embarked on the gargantuan task of converting the firm’s estate to LED, their knowledge of lighting was limited to say the least.

But, thanks to a lot of research and a number of trips to LuxLive and Lux’s very own Cavendish Centre conferences, they were quickly up to speed and ready to sell their LED dream to board members.

The majority of the Maplin estate is comprised of over 200 mainly retail park stores featuring ceiling grids or architectural high-bay light fittings. Within two years the firm expects to have converted the entire estate to LED. As things stand, 96 ceiling grid stores and 51 high bay stores have already been converted.

‘We wanted to make sure that we got the highest lumen output per watt without over driving the LED chip,’ England told Lux at Maplin's sprawling headquarters on the outskirts of Rotherham.

'We wanted to make sure that we got the highest lumen output per watt without over driving the LED chip

Jonathan England - Head of property at Maplin

‘We wanted to get more light from fewer fittings. We had lots of options and we had lots of people knock on our door to ask if they could help from a consultancy perspective, or from a supply perspective.’

After their crash course in lighting and a hell of a lot of research, England and Hewison decided not to bring in a lighting consultant and quickly started to conduct trials. The tests, in two stores in Warrington and Liverpool, aimed to find out how many LED light fittings per square foot were required.

‘The trial confirmed that the number of fittings could be reduced whilst increasing the light level,’ Hewison comments. ‘This could be done whilst attaining an even spread of light.’

Maplin's Cambridge shop, dubbed the 'Store of the Future' was opened in October 2016

Handily for Maplin, the company already had testing facilities at its HQ and the products under consideration for use in the project were put through a set of tests. The original fittings were also tested.

With over 6,000 fittings converted to LED across the Maplin estate, England and Hewison are now getting to work on their next project. Maplin is currently out to tender for the conversion of the lighting in the large distribution centre at its Rotherham HQ.

‘We are going to be using sensor lighting in the distribution centre, there are a lot of skylights in the building, so when the sun is blazing the fixtures will react to the light level and reduce downwards,’ says England.

The use of sensors is very much in line with Maplin’s broader plan as it develops its ‘Smart Life’ Internet of Things platform, which allows customers to control light fittings in the home via apps on their phones or through Amazon Echo.

Maplin’s Cambridge shop, dubbed the ‘Store of the Future’ was opened in October 2016 and features a complete re-working of the firm’s traditional store format, in order to show off the capabilities of ‘Smart Life.’

Although the technology does not allow managers to control the store lighting via their phones, England does not rule this out as a development to aim towards in the future.

‘Time will tell,’ England says. ‘At the moment the wireless connectivity is just for the retail products but we are now adding sensors to the back-of-house areas in stores, which are able to monitor activity in a room and are able to turn off the lighting if the room is not in use.’

The plan is to roll out the look of the new Cambridge shop nationwide, so the 'store of the future’ could well become ‘the store of the present,’ very soon.

 

 

 

 

  • Retail lighting will be one of the subjects of the LuxLive 2017 exhibition and conference on Wednesday 15 November and  Thursday 16 November 2017. Entry is free – pre-register to stay in the loop HERE.

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