Feature, Retail

Mission impossible: Dextra works around the clock on record Iceland fit-out

LED upgrade offers increased light levels and a 51 percent energy saving across 725 UK stores.

In the summer of 2014 Iceland embarked on a mission to upgrade all their UK stores to LED in a drive to reduce operational costs and reinvigorate their shops for customers.

The company scoured the industry speaking to an array of lighting manufacturers searching for a suitable supply partner that had the required resource, experience and products to satisfy their needs.


Outline of the Project

During a 12 month period Iceland conducted trials in 23 locations across the UK to test the capabilities of products.

The lit effect and the energy consumption was monitored in each of the locations to ensure predicted power savings were realised, the results from this formed the basis of the technical specification. In July 2015 Iceland awarded the contract to Dextra.

Iceland were looking to replace their existing 1200x600mm luminaires on a point for point basis across their 725 stores, equating to approx. 51,000 luminaires. Iceland also required as little disruption as possible from the fit-out.

All installation work was to be carried out overnight and completed before stores opened at 8am. To this end Dextra were given a three hour delivery window each night to transport over 800 luminaires to different locations across the country. Dextra then had to remove all the redundant luminaires by 12 noon the following day.

Dextra designed bespoke bulk pallets, to assist with the process, which drastically reduced the amount of cardboard required. Once emptied the boxes could then be converted to carry redundant fittings.

This sustainable solution reduced the storage requirements on site and helped to streamline the whole operation, which as one of the biggest challenges in Dextra’s history. 


Energy consumption

The new LED luminaires not only increase the light levels in store but they also return a 51 percent energy saving over the existing fixtures (see table below). 

Annual Operating Hours: 4212 (7am-7pm for 6 days and 8am-5pm for 1 day) x 52 weeks/year
Pence per kWh: 11.4
Number of luminaires: 51,206

The new LED luminaires not only increased the light levels in store but they also returned a 51 percent energy saving over the existing installation”



Once the funding was in place the Iceland delivery team wanted to get the roll out completed as quickly as possible, to get the quickest return on their investment. A target was set to complete four projects per night, five nights per week in three different areas of the country simultaneously. Dextra therefore had to deliver fixtures to twelve stores per night, five nights per week for three months.

As if this was not onerous enough Dextra had to uplift all the old lighting for re-cycling before 12 noon the following day. At the program peak we had one quarter of the entire Dextra fleet committed to the Iceland roll out.


Bulk packing

It was essential that the electrical contractors completed each installation on the night as the store had to be open for trading the following morning and the contractors had to move onto the next store. Dextra therefore worked to develop a bespoke plug and play system that drastically reduced installation time and production cost.


Plug and play

It was essential that the electrical contractors completed each installation on the night as the store had to be open for trading the following morning and the contractors had to move onto the next store. Dextra therefore worked to develop a bespoke plug and play system that drastically reduced installation time and production cost.


Emergency duration test

Traditionally most lighting manufacturers do not connect the battery leads on emergency fittings as this can cause damage to the battery cells. The leads are generally connected during installation by the electrical contractor and once connected the batteries will charge, this typically takes around 14 hours.

Before any project gets handed over the electrical contractor has to conduct a three hour duration test to ensure compliance with BSEN5266. This created a massive problem for the planning team, on the basis that the fittings were being installed overnight the contractors would not have sufficient time to charge the batteries and conduct the duration test before the store had to re-open to the public the following morning.

To overcome this issue Dextra agreed to pre-charge the batteries in their factory prior to dispatch. The company set up a selection of DC rigs that allowed assembly operatives to charge the batteries before building them into the luminaires.

The timing was critical as the batteries would only last for 72 hours and therefore we had to build and bond each store’s requirements at the last minute, to ensure they had sufficient charge by the time they got delivered to the stores the following evening.

Bespoke colour

On completion of the first trial store it was noted by the Iceland team that the white paint finish on the new luminaires was different to the existing white ceiling tiles. Although only a minor detail it was something that Iceland wanted to rectify and therefore we tracked down the original RAL colour from the ceiling tile manufacturer and agreed to spray all the luminaires in that colour for the roll out.


Designers who worked on the project

Following a number of unsuccessful trials with standard off the shelf products it became clear that Dextra needed something bespoke. Iceland sketched out their vision and the Dextra Group luminaire design team turned this into reality, creating a brand new product range from scratch specifically for Iceland.

Following a rigorous tender process Iceland decided to employ three principle contractors to carry out the installation works for the roll out; AT Green, Coleman Electrical Services and Weblight. These contractors had a good working knowledge of the estate having worked with both Iceland and Dextra previously.


Lighting equipment employed

The luminaire supplied was completely bespoke and something that Dextra created especially for Iceland, to their own specification and preferred aesthetic. Although from underneath it may look like a standard 1200x600mm recessed modular that could be bought anywhere, Dextra had to build in a range of design features to aid installation and enhance performance.

LED cards

Dextra’s in-house electronics division (LEDex light engines) designed a brand new LED card from scratch to service the Iceland contract. One of the major costs in an LED fitting is the LED cards and the actual card substrate can account for up to 40 percent of the finished LED card cost.

Dextra’s design team therefore developed a new card that was just 24mm wide and reduced substrate costs by 20 percent. This cost saving enabled Dextra to increase the density of LED chips on the card meaning that a lower drive current could be used, increasing both the efficiency and the lifetime of the LED chips.


Installation mechanism

Prior to the roll out it was noted during surveying that roughly 65 percent of the stores in the Iceland estate had SAS120 ceiling systems, this was a concern for the installing contractors as they are inherently more difficult to work with than a standard exposed tee bar system.

Due to the time constraints on the installation Iceland challenged Dextra to come up with a solution to enable the contractors to simply install the fittings from underneath without the need to remove any of the adjacent ceiling tiles.

Dextra’s design team subsequently updated the metalwork programs, adding nipples along the edge of the front frame of the luminaire to act as a temporary fix, replicating those found on SAS120 ceiling tiles.

In addition they developed a simple leaf spring mechanism to act as a permanent fix once the frame was engaged into the grid. These measures drastically reduced the predicted installation time on site, ensuring that even the largest format stores could be completed in a single night.


Plug and play wiring

Dextra started with an industry standard Wieland system using a socket with separate tee connector and interlink lead, this worked well but Iceland felt it could be improved and they were keen to drive out any unnecessary costs.  Dextra ended up ditching the tee connector and opting instead to have a socket and pre-wired flying lead on each luminaire, which the company fitted during assembly in the Dextra factory. This simple solution reduced the overall project costs by £127,000, which in turn enhanced the payback.

Watch Iceland’s video of the upgrade HERE.