Light of the Irish

 

Ireland: a country known for its beer, whiskey, potatoes and… retail display accent LED lighting??

 

It is so.

 

Two weeks ago I joined a dozen or so others representing different areas of the U.S. supermarket industry in Cork, Ireland, to check out Nualight, an LED lighting company that specializes in accent lighting for food retail. Over the course of three days we learned about its products, checked out its facilities and, with a beer in hand, further discussed the company’s strategy for winning over the U.S. market.

 

We spent the first full day at Nualight’s headquarters learning about the science and ambition behind the lighting technologies, including three new innovations the company debuted the following week at the EuroShop Global Retail Trade Fair in Düsseldorf Germany. Following the presentations, we toured the facilities, including their testing room where we saw the lighting in action in an array of refrigerated cases with mock product.

 

While the presentations had left me intrigued to see the lights in action, the testing room left me intrigued to see them in action in an actual supermarket. Lucky for me, the company uses the local Supervalu, a large supermarket chain in Ireland, as a demo store where it tests the impact of its latest innovations — and we were on our way to see it.

 

Let me take a second to reflect back on a prior experience in my life. When I was in college I called a number during my spring break that I found on a job advert on campus. The man I spoke to requested I come in to learn more that evening.

 

I was hesitant at the lack of information, but I showed up anyway, along with two dozen others. Without any explanation, the company’s lead man whipped out a set of knives and over the next twenty minutes he proceeded to share insight into the knive’s technology and demonstrate their strength, versatility and very sleek ability to, well, cut things.

 

My jaw dropped, and when I looked around everyone else held the same expression. I understood their process instantly — if you had told me it was a job selling knives I’d have never showed up. But after witnessing the effectiveness of the product and trying them out myself, I knew I’d have no problem selling them because I believed in them.

 

Walking into Supervalu in Grange, Ireland, brought me back to that moment. I took one look at the produce department and I wanted to, well, buy and eat all the fruit. The color was that impressive. Nualight intentionally maintains fluorescent lighting on certain cases and varies the color of their LED lighting so they can compare and contrast, as well as track the increase in sales.

 

According to Paul Kelly, the vice president of business development, one refrigerated case alone yielded a 26 percent increase in sales, and the meat department, which was shining bright under Nualight’s new Vivace high CRI lighting, a design that uses color-boosters to achieve a white light that highlights the natural redness of meat, had enjoyed a 19 percent increase in sales.

 

The company initially focused on the produce, meat and deli departments and refrigerator and freezer cases, but they are also playing with them in the health and beauty care department — and quite successfully.

 

Seeing the lights in action, I was sold. If I was one of the supermarket procurement managers on the trip who wasn’t already using the lights — some of the event’s participants have already “seen the light” and are using Nualight’s products — I’d have signed a purchase order that night, on dinner napkin if need be.

 

Many times people underestimate the impact of seeing something in person, boring you with facts and figures that lack an emotional connection. While knowing you could save up to 30 percent on energy costs by installing LED lighting, according to company officials, is very valuable information, I am a hands-on type of person, and am grateful for the opportunity to see Nualight’s product in action as well as understand their behind-the-scenes production.

 

If I ever have the chance to consult for the retail sector, I would happily recommend the Irish company. After all, to this day, anyone who comes over for dinner sits through my knife presentation. (Seriously, you should see them cut through one of the bright red juicy tomatoes I bought at the Supervalu.)

 

 

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