Stores That Sell Luxury Get Stingy
About Energy Costs
French fashion group LVMH is reducing its energy usage
by changing the lighting in stores for
Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Sephora
Bulgaris brightly lit store on Romes Via Condotti cut its energy use by 50% in 2014, and the Fendi store in Naples cut its use by 35%in both cases after installing light-emitting diode, or LED, light bulbs. LEDs are turning out to be a big deal for these brands overseer, the luxury conglomerate LVMH, which says 70% of its energy usage goes into its stores, not its factories, shipping or other activities. LVMHs stores occupy nearly 11 million square feet of retail space around the globe, selling everything from Louis Vuitton handbags to Moët & Chandon champagnes. The company started trials of LED lighting three years ago.
The effort to reduce LVMHs appetite for energy, as well as its sustainability and biodiversity efforts, is led by Sylvie Bénard, an agronomist who started out in the luxury business making champagne and cognac in LVMHs cellars. Ms. Bénard has just been named strategic adviser on business and biodiversity to the European Commission.
As LVMHs environmental director, Ms. Bénard has pressed initiatives that encourage rice farmers in India to plant vetiver, a grass important in the making of Guerlain fragrances, around their fields. And she has pushed for the selection of wood from sustainably managed forests for packaging and cabinetry in boutiques.
On Thursday, at LVMHs annual meeting, the company will issue its latest environmental report, 78 pages outlining efforts to replace air freight with ocean shipping, which emits fewer greenhouse gasses. There are initiatives to protect bees in several countries, and to audit suppliers for sustainable practices.
Just as we feel about quality craftsmanship, innovation and creativity, the environment has become a driver for progress for LVMH and we see it as key to the growth of our brands, Bernard Arnault, LVMHs chairman and chief executive, said in an emailed statement.
Lighting is a crucial if seldom noticed element in the selling atmosphere. On lvmhlighting.com, an LVMH website currently used by its Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Sephora stores, the company says, Optimal lighting is the powerful gleam that radiates the splendour and aesthetics of beautiful products.
Sustainable changes to lighting dont have to involve sacrifice, Ms. Bénard notes. LED lights, it turns out, do a better job of highlighting products features and are more pleasing to shoppers than incandescents or fluorescents, she says.
LVMHs lighting needs are so vast that the company researched the best options for hue and those least likely to damage wines, and then forged agreements with 20 lighting suppliers. It has published a catalog and the lighting website for internal use. The site is intended to be rolled out to all LVMH brands later this year.
One of Ms. Bénards latest concerns is all the new monitor screens in LVMH stores. After measuring energy used by escalators, air-conditioning, lighting and other uses, the company realized that computer and digital display screens were devouring almost as much as what the company was saving with LED light bulbs. LVMH is working with suppliers to obtain less energy-hungry screens, she says.
Binkley, Christina, The Wall Street Journal, Stores That Sell Luxury Get Stingy About Lighting Costs, April 15, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/stores-that-sell-luxury-get-stingy-about-energy-costs-1429135355
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There are five types of LED luminaries intended for use indoors: downlights, industrial ambient luminaires (e.g., high-bay and low-bay), track heads, troffers (e.g., 2x4, 2x2, 1x4), and linear fixtures (e.g., linear pendant, strip lights). They are typically used in applications with long hours of use, and thus consume substantial amounts of energy.