The debate on doors is over, says Simon Robinson, whose company has fitted 900 examples for Londis. It’s just a question of whether you want reap the benefits
We initially conducted trials with Musgrave GB, owner of Londis and Budgens retailers, on a couple of sites back in 2012 before they were prepared to back retrofitting doors.
At the time, Musgrave was one of the first wholesalers in the UK to endorse chiller doors, so it really helped promote the benefits to its retail concerns.
We had also retrofitted doors for a number of independent retailers direct before that who trade under the Londis fascia.
In the early days, we always provided an energy calculation to give the retailer an idea of payback – it was always important to us that we gave honest advice and realistic paybacks. Invariably, the actual savings were far greater than our predictions.
The fact that all the independent retailers had seen doors being fitted in the Tesco Express stores meant that they could see this as a positive step.
They did have concerns, however, that the sliding doors being used in the Tesco stores did not work that well and were difficult to open.
We sold a lot of hinged doors as they were clearly the better option from a maintenance point of view.
Spar had also been fitting doors for a while and some prominent independent retailers such as Jonathan James had heavily promoted chiller doors in the press.
Another key barrier to fitting doors is profit.
There have always been concerns over loss of sales and still are today. We have conducted trials now with Londis, Budgens, Spar and regional Coops – and overall, none of them have seen any drop in sales.
However, after a period of eight to 12 months, both Spar and Budgens decided it did affect fresh produce sales, so kept those cabinets open.
In general, feedback from independent retailers stated that customers spend more time in front of the cabinets as it is not so cold and therefore take more time selecting what they want to purchase and take in more of the special offers.
The perception of the customer is that the products are fresher and better illuminated behind the doors, giving a far better customer experience – as one retailer said, “You wouldn’t leave your fridge door open at home, would you?”
Since we started retrofitting Delta Energy Solutions in 2011, we have always carried out the work during trading hours.
A typical installation will involve our fitters removing the top fascia to fit the adaption kits, carrying out any wiring required for LED lighting and EC fans, then bringing the doors in from the van one at a time.
Our refrigeration engineer will then re-commission the equipment to ensure that the refrigeration system is optimised for the doors and working correctly.
We are always cautious not to clutter up the shop floor and work around customers and staff. Working through the day significantly cuts down the installation cost and our installation teams are all Safe Contractor-accredited, so work in a very safe and tidy manner.
We are frequently contacted by our customers after each installation thanking us for the excellent attitude of our install teams, which isn’t bad given the difficult environment that we are asking them to work in.
You would struggle to find a customer who is not happy after the doors are fitted – the staff are warmer, the customers more comfortable, the energy bills come down, they report reduced pilfering and the products are better illuminated if vertical LED has been selected.
I would have to say it is one of the most positive solutions that we have been involved with.
In these times of enhanced energy consumption awareness, Londis, the RSMs and Development managers all promote the energy savings to the retailers and the retailers’ own forums, while cluster meetings are also a chance for them to share this information.
Typically, the energy savings on a retrofit door job, including retrofit LED lighting and EC fan motors, is around 45 per cent of the refrigeration energy usage – in some cases more, some slightly less, as every installation is different.
We have had some sites where it worked out we could remove a condensing unit and run the cabinets on less units, as the difference in case duty was so large.
Delta have retrofitted in excess of 900 x doors for Londis in the past two years – those that have not taken up retrofit doors are purchasing new cabinets with doors factory-fitted.
Delta Refrigeration is specified with all the UK symbol groups.
Our plans are to continue supporting this sector, but also take our experience of retrofit energy solutions to the multiples.
There are very few companies that have our experience with the many manufacturers’ doors and the staggering amount of different case models we have fitted doors to since 2011.
Delta Refrigeration has amassed an extensive database of adaption kits that suit more than six door suppliers and hundreds of display cabinet models, as we never rely on the door manufacturers own solutions – this experience makes us, we think, one of the best and most versatile retrofit energy solutions suppliers in the country.
Simon Robinson is managing director of Delta Refrigeration