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We recently interviewed two separate sets of stakeholders in leading UK retailers and service providers to gain insights into their technology goals for transforming energy efficiency.

We then consolidated our findings into a maturity framework and themes on firstly target and ambition, and secondly the challenges.


Energy costs have now become a Board issue for UK retailers. In Q3 last year, non-domestic gas prices for large businesses were 180% higher than the previous year.1 As a result, Iceland halted plans to open new stores last autumn after their energy bill rose by £20m, with Managing Director Richard Walker saying the business was “fighting to keep the lights on”.2 Meanwhile, the John Lewis Partnership forecast an overspend on power by £18m.3

With over 12,000 supermarkets and 500 shopping centres in the UK, retailers are estimated to spend over £3bn on energy annually. At a time when sales growth has slowed and inflation is squeezing margin, retailers are urgently looking for solutions to reduce their energy costs


Businesses are looking at switching to more efficient devices, but commercials are challenging.

Businesses have embarked on programmes to install LED lights. This is an easy win, reducing lighting costs by over 50% with a short payback on capital invested of between 1-4 years. Additionally, many retailers recognise untapped opportunities switching from gas boilers to more efficient heat pumps, powered by on-site solar with predictable costs, rather than drawing from volatile energy market prices.

But cash is king and capex is tight for retailers – and these are high cost items. We found payback within 2-3 years was typically required for investment in energy efficiency solutions, compared to 5-10 years for solar rooftops4 and over 12 years for heat pumps, which is limiting deployment of these solutions.5


There are plenty of energy saving opportunities in optimising how and when existing devices are used.

There are many examples of wasted energy in heating, cooling, lighting and refrigeration. Take supermarkets for example, which pump cold air out while HVAC produces heat to maintain a comfortable building temperature for customers; leave loading doors open, leaking heat from service areas; keep lights on in stores and car parks that are not adjusted for shift patterns; leave air handling units running all day even in areas of low or no occupancy, a legacy from Covid; and have refrigeration units that are not optimised for external weather.

Savings can be made in avoiding stock loss through better predictive maintenance of fridges and chillers and adjusting settings to respond to heat waves or cold snaps. Many of these could be addressed with software, analytics and some behavioural change, unlocking short-term savings and releasing cash to invest in new assets such as heat pumps and solar PV.

opportunities AND savings

Our full report explores where the sweet spot is for retailers when it comes to automated intelligent energy management, particular in the face of challenges with data, asset connectivity and system integration and looks at six ways to move up the maturity curve and unlock further energy savings.

Read it here.

Jonathan Carr

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