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Retail message gives inspiration

A low carbon message from the supermarkets that ought to inspire the industry

The refrigeration managers of the major retailers are a busy bunch, as I am sure many readers will have discovered, especially those readers who have something to try to sell to them.

It’s hardly surprising then, given that these days they all have responsibility for store numbers that run into the hundreds, that it is difficult to get them into one place.

So when our Retail Question Time was graced with six major national supermarkets (what is the collective noun for refrigeration managers? A chill perhaps?) we knew they knew that something important was afoot.

You can read the detail in RAC January, but the crux of the matter is that the supermarkets are united in their belief that carbon reduction is now the major challenge for this industry.

The good news is that to a man the retailers believe that this is a fantastic opportunity for the supply chain to drive new technology into the supermarket cooling mix.

But the message that these folk came in their numbers to bring was that this is an opportunity that needs to be grasped now, and that it is likely to require new ways of thinking. As one of them said, this is not any longer just about refrigeration, it is about the HVAC and the building fabric too.

The theme of the Question Time was Innovation, Integration and Inspiration and such a message was clearly going inspirational for those who are involved in new technology.

That is no doubt why 90 people pitched up to hear it – but to hear retailers positively urging the audience to pitch them low carbon ideas for their specific store needs would have even the most hard bitten supplier cause for optimism.

But what the retailers want is integrated solutions and it is the integration that is perhaps the most challenging part of the conundrum. It will most likely mean rac firms needing to collaborate more with their heating, M&E and construction counterparts – and perhaps beyond.

The supermarkets have shown a willingness to share ideas, so now the real work needs to start on how to channel the industry’s undoubted capacity for innovation to meet retail’s low carbon needs. With the new year comes a fresh new opportunity.

Read the RAC Retail Question Time feature in full HERE

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