Don’t spec too soon, warns Co-op’s lighting boss

Lighting experts at LuxLive yesterday warned against specifying lighting products too far ahead of rollout, given the pace of change of LED technology.

The Co-op’s Rob Scoulding pointed to the importance of partnering with manufacturers that are willing to futureproof clients as much as possible. ‘Guard against bespoke,’ he warned. ‘Or you’ll get caught out.’

Scoulding told delegates that, while the Co-op has been using LEDs for four years with excellent quality light and low failure rates, the most important thing is the look and feel. ‘You can say it hits a certain lux level but if it’s not looking good, the brand people, the marketers, won’t be pleased,’ he said. ‘Customers need to feel comfortable… and if you can’t see anything in-store, you’re wasting your time.’

Dave Tilley, Lux’s lighting economist, stressed during the panel discussion on retail lighting that decisions can be part of a ‘long, drawn out’ process and for this reason partnerships with trusted suppliers are important. ‘Make sure what you specify in 2013 isn’t necessarily what goes in your store in 2016,’ he said.

Mary Rushton-Beales of Lighting Design House revealed that her company has started to put clauses in contracts stating that it won’t specify lighting until six months prior to procurement, ‘otherwise the client can’t get the best deal’. She adds that communication is essential to effective planning when it comes to lighting systems. ‘There’s sometimes a lack of communication,’ she said.

The Co-op’s Scoulding said that lighting has become a more important consideration for the retail business, and with each store manager at the Co-op accountable for that store’s bottom line, ‘lighting is no longer the poor relation. It’s more important than it’s ever been before’.

The key, he added, is to aim for a lighting design which will last, enabling the retailer to ‘fit and forget’, while still being able to adjust accent lighting. ‘But never believe the hype. I was given a document once about potential energy savings which was based on 25-hour days,’ he said.