Half of the lighting suppliers who contact him 'don't understand their products', Sainsbury's head of engineering Mark Hawker told the Retail Lighting and Energy Conference yesterday.
Hawker says he is contacted by about two or three new lighting suppliers each month, but that half don’t properly understand what they are selling.
'When we interview suppliers, 50 per cent don’t understand their product, or their business case is over-inflated or just plain wrong,” he told 200 retail and lighting professionals the London event.
'In some cases, it’s all of the above.'
Hawker stressed the importance of checking the supply chain for where equipment is coming from and the quality control behind it . 'Check their business case,' he said. 'Don’t take it as gospel. Ask yourself, will this company be around as long as the warranty?'
Despite these challenges with some suppliers, Sainsbury’s has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 31 per cent in recent years. Energy consumption is down 6 per cent across the estate, despite a 23 per cent increase in floor area as the supermarket brand has expanded its retail footprint.
Hawker said that one of the retailer’s values is respect for the environment, and with over 21 million customers a week, the brand has a significant environmental impact. 'The key to sustainability,' said Hawker, 'often lies in engineering and innovation.'
Lighting comprises about 20 per cent of the supermarket’s energy consumption and Sainsbury’s has committed to using daylight in some instances as well as training staff about energy-saving behaviour. 'It is the store manager’s responsibility to manage the energy budget,' added Hawker.
One advantage of LEDs, he explained, was that they are ‘fairly agnostic’ to temperature, especially when compared to fluorescents. Sainsbury’s started off using LEDs in cold rooms but is now using them for feature lighting, car parks and offices, too. Hawker said the business case for using LEDs as ambient lighting was starting to emerge, given improvements in the technology such as better colour rendering and increases in longevity. 'The cost is continuing to go down,' he added, noting that in the new all-LED Sainsbury’s store in Leek (pictured), a saving in lighting energy of 59 per cent had been achieved.