Discount retailer Lidl has become a first-time winner of the National Retailer category at the Cooling Awards, beating a host of bigger supermarkets in the process.
Lidl’s win was just one of a number of firsts as the industry’s biggest Awards celebrated its ninth year with another record audience – more than 670 of the industry’s finest, a massive 10 per cent rise on last year.
The prestigious Gold Award, given to individuals who have made a significant impact on the industry’s environmental progress, went to Chris Woollett for his passionate advocacy of recycling and refurbishment of display cases. Mr Woollett, managing director of the Bond Group, has turned into a one-man political lobbyist in a bid to change policy.
Colleagues summed up his influence: “He is a person whose positive can-do attitude encourages others around him and helps move our industry forward.”
Lidl’s ambitious 14-month strategy of overhauling its national cabinet fleet with a phased introduction of progressively more energy efficient and lower-GWP, integrated models was praised by judges. On top of a low leakage rate from the integral units, the direction of travel was applauded .The judges said: “Lidl has outlined a coherent strategy to suit its estate.”
Lidl is upgrading the display footprint at all its 600 stores, forefronting fresh produce, and in cooling terms, together with partner AHT prioritising natural refrigerants in the form of low-energy R290 integral chest cabinets. The retailer estimates energy savings of 13-35 per cent from the replacement and a cumulative CO2 reduction of 1280 tonnes.
Its chilled cases across the estate will be progressively upgraded to more energy efficient models, then R134a models and ultimately R290 or HFOs. Lidl estimates a 37 per cent energy reduction in the initial phase alone.
The End-User (non-supermarket) of the Year was won by food manufacturing giant 2SistersFoodGroup for its efforts in involving a large swathe of the industrial cooling sector in its R22 phase-out strategy.
The Retail Project of the Year was won by what is claimed to be a world-first, the all-aluminium installation at Tesco Metro in Wolverhampton. The installation, which is also designed to be leak-free in store, thanks to its specification with the non-brazed Reflok, was described simply as “groundbreaking” by the judges.
The Awards also saw the first win at Cooling by a home delivery system, as GAH Refrigeration was awarded Refrigeration Innovation of the Year for the RD250e, developed to cut emissions on Tesco.com’s fleet.
The 2013 Awards saw the accolades shared around the industry, with only two companies netting more than one trophy. That first was WR Refrigeration, which picked up the Training Initiative for the second year running, alongside the coveted RAC Contractor of the Year. WR was cited in both awards for its commitment to employing
5 per cent of its workforce at apprentice level. Judges especially praised WR’s quest to make the cooling industry “fit for the future” via a research collaboration with Nottingham Trent University.
The second double-winner was Arctic Circle, rewarded for more imaginative responses to the challenges of natural refrigeration and heat recovery. The Hereford manufacturer won with its Switch hydrocarbon-CO2 cascade for the Hallamshire Hospital project, which saw complex demands met by modular heat pumps.
National Student of the Year
The RAC National Student of the Year, which is organised in collaboration with the Institute of Refrigeration, was this year won by Johnson controls trainee David Cooper (pictured). Mr Cooper, trained by the Grimsby Institute, was praised by judges for his commitment to his work – travelling a 200 mile round trip to the college – and for his ingenuity, with customers noting “he has brought to the table ideas that might have been overlooked”.
Worldskills finalist Steven Burge of Cosham Refrigeration and Eastleigh Colllege was awarded second, while Daniel Smith of Kellogg, Brown and Root and Chillair Academy was placed third.