ALLAN MURRAY is engineering project manager at upmarket supermarket Waitrose, part of Britain's largest employee-owned retailer, the John Lewis Partnership. The brand has 352 branches across the country and a 5 per cent share of the grocery market, making it the sixth-largest grocery retailer in the UK.
Murray is responsible for the lighting at the stores, and the long-running programme to migrate from fluorescent to LED at the stores.
‘Lighting is fundamental to our whole offer,’ says Murray. ‘If we can’t light our products well, and efficiently, A, our bottom line is effected and B, customers don’t buy [merchandise] that doesn’t look good’.
The company is monitoring developments in so-called ‘connected lighting, where luminaires are linked to the internet and both deliver data to customers and generate data about the stores and its customers to management.
‘I think the IoT and the future of that is very exciting. It would relate very much to our John Lewis department stores where we have multiple floors with different offers and it would be easy for customers’ product finding.
‘All our lighting is controlled to varying degree. In the supermarkets it’s very simple, it’s half on when we’re stocking and full on when we’re trading.
'There’s some daylighting-saving initiatives using natural light to illuminate product where we can and turning off the actual store lights.
'We use daylight sensors and daylight tubes to bring daylight into the stores’.
The company is part-way through a major programme to migrate to LED where appropriate.
'Currently the lighting estate is about 50 per cent LED, with the remainder a mixture of fluorescent and metal halide.
‘In older stores, we’re retrofitting LED into existing lighting troughs. So we don’t have to change whole ceilings. It makes it much more economical to upgrade our lighting'.
‘At Waitrose we’ve always made the effort not to light the space. We’d rather light the product.
'A lot of our competitors – who have fundamentally different buildings to us as well – would put in cross-aisle lighting, which gives them flexibility in their fixturisation, but doesn’t light the product. It lights everything.
‘We make a feature of lighting of what we’re trying to sell rather than the top of a fridge’.
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