Environmentalist and writer, Jonathon Porritt, has been involved with the UK retail sector for a very long time. Forum for the Future, the organisation he co-founded in 1996, works with Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and others on a whole range of complex sustainability issues. Jonathon recently highlighted some of the issues facing those high street supermarkets in their environmental strategies.
“Major UK retailers have been working hard to meet the challenges of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme, not least in the reduction of energy consumption associated with refrigeration equipment. Understandably, retailers are keen to ensure that these initiatives do not compromise the shopping experience or create a negative impact on sales, which may explain the limited uptake of glass doors on chilled display cases in larger stores. But that doesn’t make the challenge any the less daunting.”
These reservations about glass doors have been echoed by retail refrigeration representatives at several recent high profile industry events. There is increasing evidence to suggest that glass doors on chilled cabinets, in busy stores, have a detrimental effect on foot fall, resulting in a reduction in sales. It is becoming increasingly apparent that glass doors are not the only, or indeed the best, energy saving initiative.
Adande® Refrigeration claims that its innovative AirCell® technology will provide retailers with a viable and cost effective option, which will not only save energy, but also deliver an uncompromised shopping experience. Aircell® is a patented airflow management system, designed for open front refrigerated multi deck cabinets, which may be incorporated within new cabinets, retrofitted to existing cabinets or fitted as part of refurbishment programmes.
The AirCell® concept avoids the need to fit physical barriers, such as glass doors, to the front of multi deck cabinets. To the shopper, AirCell® retail displays will appear no different to conventional open front multi deck display cabinets. AirCell® cabinets have been designed to promote the visibility of merchandise and provide ease of access to shelves for unhindered browsing, shopping and restocking. Like conventional refrigerated displays, AirCell® cabinets may accommodate versatile shelving configurations and LED lighting for flexible and high visibility merchandising.
In addition to its shopper friendly characteristics, AirCell® is engineered to deliver significant energy savings. Aircell® works by dividing the cabinet’s merchandising envelope into separate cells between shelves. The smaller cells have a shorter air column and independent management of air movement. As a result, there will be less pressure on the air curtain of each cell and a substantial reduction in cold air spillage from the case, meaning that less energy will be required to maintain the chilled temperature within the cabinet. The fact that less cold air will spill from the cabinet will also reduce cold aisle syndrome, which is the chilly and often uncomfortable temperature experienced by shoppers in the refrigerated departments of supermarkets and convenience stores.
The inherently stable temperature in Aircell® cabinets will help to maintain the quality and appearance of chilled food over longer periods, reducing the volume of perishable merchandise which may be price discounted or thrown away due to deterioration in quality or appearance. This will help to address the issue of food wastage, which is high on the sustainability agenda for food retailers.
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