From concept to grand opening, Cree® LED lighting proves to be a reliable solution that delivers on better visibility and energy/maintenance cost savings while adding comfort to the grocery shopping experience.
Originally founded in 1966, Buy-Low Foods is now the largest food wholesale distributor to independent grocers in Western Canada, servicing nearly 1,900 wholesale customers through its Associated Grocers and Van-Whole Produce divisions. With 35 corporate stores and 2 franchise stores, Buy-Low Foods also provides fresh produce, fine cuts of meats and national brand products directly to consumers. Although each of these stores are unique, they all share a common commitment to deliver quality products at low, low prices while providing a great customer experience.
While designing a new store build, and with a focus on value, Louie Pulice, Business Development Coordinator for Buy- Low Foods, began looking for lighting solutions to make the new Langdon, AB store as cost efficient as possible, without sacrificing the shopper experience. He worked with Electrical Designer Dan Melchior to develop a lighting plan that would meet Buy Low Foods lighting standards while lowering operation costs. Enter Cree.
Dan Melchior decided to go with LED lighting after having a conversation with his sales agent, Bryan Lortie from CDm2 LIGHTWORKS. After Bryan introduced the Cree product line, he developed his lighting design primarily with Cree LED lighting.
“I’ve used alternate manufacturers for site lighting on other projects, but I‘m now convinced that Cree’s variety of LED packages and warranty knocks all of the competitors off the map. Cree provides a 10 year warranty on their products, which is double what other manufacturers provide,” said Melchior.
Dan ended up selecting CS18™ LED Suspended Ambient luminaires down the aisles and CR24™ LED Troffers in the deli/bakery areas and offices. Both products feature CreeTrueWhite® Technology for the ideal combination of efficacy, 90+ CRI, and consistent colour temperatures. WS4™ Surface Ambient luminaires were utilized inside the freezers and coolers, and Cree Edge™ LED High Output Area luminaires in the parking lot.
With a lighting plan ready, the next step was to present the plan, product samples, photometric data and the payback analysis comparing the traditional technology versus modern LED technology to the Buy-Low’s Development Team. Everyone was surprised to see a three year payback, and were pleased that they had found a viable LED lighting solution.
Both Pulice and Melchior visited the plant before making the final decision to purchase Cree® products. “We went over the history and development of Cree, and it was intriguing,” said Pulice. For Melchior, seeing the facilities first-hand, helped him understand what Cree is all about. “From the engineering to the testing, I was really impressed by the quality of their operation.”
Bringing in an electrician to Buy-Low Foods stores could cost up to $2,000 per visit. By installing Cree® LED lighting, Buy-Low Foods is expected to save $8,745 in annual maintenance costs.
“As a designer, it only makes sense with the rising costs of electricity to choose products that will save the owners money in the long term,” Melchior adds, “as well as the inherent cost savings from the maintenance side which is a huge part of their operating costs.” Plus, with the 10-year limited warranty, you don’t have to worry about changing a light.
Pulice had someone knocking on his door trying to sell him LED lighting daily, and they often promised him the lowest price and a ten year warranty. He questioned what kind of recourse he would really have. If there were challenges or issues, would he have somewhere to go? Cree is not the cheapest solution out there, but if they were going to put in an investment of that size, by doing an entire store, he needed to be sure that he was dealing with a reliable manufacture.
“With Cree, I’m confident that I made the right choice. Since the opening in 2014, we haven’t had an issue, and we were really pleased with the end result,” said Pulice.
The end result is high performing, beautiful white light that can dramatically improve the visual appearance of fruits, vegetables and meats. Cree TrueWhite® Technology is perfect for grocery applications, because it delivers 90+ CRI, high R9 values, and accurate and consistent colour — all while offering significant energy savings compared to traditional technologies.
From Melchior’s view, “The quality of light is non-intrusive and the diffusers provide a soft, even distribution down the aisles. I challenge any indirect traditional luminaire to do better.”
Cree has flexibility within their light levels to change a customer shopping experience that is unique to a select store. For example, Nesters Market stores lean towards lower light levels to give a more comfortable/cozier shopping experience. While Buy-Low Foods stores choose higher light levels to make the produce and groceries pop off the shelves.
“When we built the store and opened it up, there were a lot of comments on how comfortable it was,” Pulice adds, “In the past, when you looked up at LED, it blinded you. With Cree, people seem to really like the light level, and has a comfortable shopping experience. Even at night, it’s really impressive.”
The Langdon location set a trend for Buy-Low Foods. They upgraded the Buy-Low Foods in Clearwater and a Meinhardt Fine Foods with Cree LED lighting. Plus, they are looking to Cree for the next three Nesters Market stores in 2016.