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Waitrose vows to change industry thinking on leak reduction

Waitrose has raised the bar on stopping leaks with a public commitment to halve leakage throughout its sites and a radical programme of proactive measures

The retailer has promised ‘completely change the industry’s way of thinking on refrigerant leaks’ by halving its contractor supply base to three, increasing the thoroughness of its F-gas tracking and has introducing independent leak checkers to monitor progress at stores.

These ‘mystery sniffers’ will make random unannounced visits to stores as well making programmed visits after maintenance.

Waitrose feasibility director Steve Isaiah said: “We will be tracking and managing shop activity every week, and it will be an active reviewing of what happens if a leak is recorded. If a leak occurs we will send the leak checkers in, and they will carry cameras to record any changes, so that we are not just routinely fixing leaks, but providing a full report on why and how it occurred. “

Mr Isaiah said to up the ante on leaks, the contractors would have targets written into their contracts. “If they don’t meet their leak targets, they will start losing money, so it is focusing their minds too.”

In addition, Waitrose has set up a monthly steering group with all its contractors to monitor progress. “They are prepared to come on a journey with us, and for the directors to attend every month says something about their commitment to leak reduction” he added.

The store is investing in a number of remedial measures throughout its estate, such as taking out Schrader valves and replacing with transducers. It has also changed the sensitivity of its automatic leak detection equipment. Mr Isaiah said: “This will inevitably result in more callouts, but we believe it is a price worth paying.”

The leak reduction strategy goes hand in hand with the retailer’s proposed changes to a hydrocarbon refrigeration technology he said: “We have made a commitment to reduce direct carbon loss and we all know that refrigeration plays a big part in this.