Feature, Retail

How Matalan balances great light with great value

Photo: Zarina Holmes

Rick Marshall, M&E manager at Matalan, is part of the team overseeing the introduction of LED lighting at the budget fashion chain, and one of our top speakers at Lux‘s Lighting for Retail and Hospitality conference on 12 March. Lux met him to find out more.


Lighting makes a huge difference to our stores
I’m helping to change Matalan’s store format. Basically we want a scheme that is vibrant and different, and lighting can make a massive difference – both aesthetically and practically. No-one has been able to prove it with numbers, but I’m sure a well lit product sells more.


Light levels change with the seasons
Getting the lighting right is a fine balance. In winter you get products in browns, greens… very dark colours, and the amount of reflected light can drop. In the summer months you’ve got bright colours and the store could look 100 or 200 lx lighter. So you’ve got to balance all that and look at your calibrations.


“The colours you can bring out with LEDs now are absolutely fantastic”


LEDs bring out fantastic colours
I’m open to people coming in and offering me different lighting solutions, but at the moment I’m heavily into LEDs. The colours you can bring out with LEDs now are absolutely fantastic. I’m looking at a sample light fitting using an LED chip called the Xicato Vibrancy. If you put that next to a CDM fitting or a CRI 70 LED spotlight it brings the colours out and draws your eye to the products a lot more. We tried it in a bespoke fitting over a jeans bar in our Cardiff store. The Vibrancy chip brings out the rich denim colour and totally sells it.


We had to build a decent business case
LEDs are coming down in cost, and we’re also very mindful of energy efficiency. Justifying any scheme is always a battle with the finance department, so you have to build a decent business case. We’ve completed an LED scheme in our Cardiff store. We generally project a two-year payback, but Cardiff started to pay back within two or three months.


Spotlighting an entire store is hard work
We got a concept design company to look at lighting options from different manufacturers. We chose spotlighting as the best option for the Cardiff store. I was heavily involved from the concept stage. Getting the lighting consistent took a lot of hard work, positioning all the tracks and so on. It took weeks to do one floor, then we replicated that on the other three floors. You use a lot of spotlights. But I’m really proud of that store.


We need to get the best value for money
We are a budget retailer so we do look at getting the best value for our money. Lumenpulse AlphaLED came up with the spotlights. They were very pleasing aesthetically and within our cost range, but the winning factor was the support and maintenance. The fittings came with a brilliant five-year parts and labour warranty.


The Cardiff scheme is automated
We’ve got total control. We have stock lighting that switches on a third of the lights at night when we’re bringing in stock. The display window lighting stays on until, say, 11 or 12 o’clock at night on the high street and then turns off. Trade lighting comes on at eight in the morning and stays on throughout our trading hours. Also we have daylight harvesting in the atrium areas, half lights that go down to half level when the light outside is bright enough to replicate what we’ve normally got in there. It’s all fully automated and remotely controlled.


We’re tweaking the format
Our new Oxford Street store opens in April. Based on our experience in Cardiff, we’re using the same spotlights but with some general lighting at high level. Lumenpulse AlphaLED has developed a fitting for us – it’s basically a high-powered LED strip in an aluminium extrusion.


The cost savings are astronomical
We are looking to reduce our carbon footprint, and we aim to reduce energy consumption as much as possible in each store. One of the things we’re doing is a flat panel replacement for all our stores with ceilings. We ran a trial in Kidderminster, replacing compact fluorescent 600 x 600 fittings with flat panels, and the cost in energy reduction is astronomical. We normally work on a two-year payback, but at Kidderminster we projected payback after 14 months. Now we’re rolling this out to another 20 stores.

If you’re an end user of lighting, you can register FREE for Lux’s Lighting for Retail and Hospitality conference on 12 March