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Spotlight On: Retail Orphan Initiative

BY Marianne Wilson

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There are more than 400 million vulnerable and orphaned children worldwide, and the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) wants to help as many as it can. The charitable foundation brings together retailers, vendors and industry consultants to raise awareness and provide real solutions for these needy children, both here at home and around the world.

In support of RetailROI, SPECS invited the group’s founder and donor trustee, Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group, to make a presentation at the show.

“The opportunity for the store design/planning, construction and facilities colleagues from SPECS is absolutely crucial to the things that we are doing,” Buzek said.

There are many ways retailers and suppliers can get involved with RetailROI, both personally and/or on behalf of their business, including participating in a RetailROI “vision trip.” (For more, go to Retailroi.org/how-to-get-involved/get-involved.)

RetailROI has helped to build four schools in underdeveloped countries. While the tech side of retail has been very involved in these efforts, Buzek is now hoping to get the store development side equally involved.

“The talents of the design, planning and construction side of things would bring so much to these opportunities,” he said. “Even in projects where the walls are already up, there are issues with how to make the best use of the space, sound absorption and the like. We have a school in Liberia that has 215 children in nine classrooms that are made entirely out of cement. The sound simply bounces off the walls. It’s important to understand that what a person does every day as part of their daily job can be a critical skill that can brighten the life of a child in need.”

In support of the charity, SPECS donated two paintings that were done on site by famous speed painter Dan Dunn to RetailROI, which raffled them off during the show. The winners of the raffle, which raised a total of $5,880, were Todd Chapell, building estimator, Wegmans Foods Markets, Rochester, N.Y.; and Craig Chinn, associate principal, KTGY Group, Irvine, Calif.

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Spotlight On: Color Trends

BY Katherine Boccaccio

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“The expectation of today’s consumer has risen — and that includes color and the way it is used,” said Leatrice Eiseman, color specialist, author, and consultant to Pantone, in the SPECS session entitled “Color My World – Color Trends.”

No color has higher expectations for 2013 than green, according to Eiseman. In fact, emerald (specifically Pantone 17-5641) has made a comeback, officially named Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year.

“Green symbolizes sustainability and health, but it also is a fashion color,” she said.

The green hues can also be considered neutrals, supplanting tans, taupes and beiges as a retail backdrop. Deeper greens, such as olive and brighter shades like aqua and turquoise, can be strategically used to draw attention.

Other current color trends identified by Eiseman include:

• Oranges and yellows have made a surprise appearance as accent colors, employed on laminates, outdoor furnishings and as accent shades in darkened areas;

• Among the metallics, pewter has gained hold;

• Wood tones and finishes are being mixed and matched across settings that range from elegant to rustic, gaining popularity from the attraction toward sustainability; and

• Laminates layered with color are go-to materials for 2013.

Eiseman, considered a crystal-baller when it comes to color, offered the following forecast for the coming year:

1. Look for neon pink instead of red.

2. Neutrals will be accented with splashes of color like rosedust.

3. Rugged color palettes suggest sustainability and will continue to garner favor. Tortoise shell, toasted coconut and chocolate brown will be accented by pops of color, such as orange, to add interest.

4. Traditional blues and greens, always reliable, can be accented by a brighter blue or even pink to draw attention.

5. Convivial hues — those that lie across from each other on the color wheel — will be used together to create interest.

6. Neons will be around for at least another two years.

“The current economic climate is keeping colors around longer,” Eiseman said. “We are more reticent about change. That said, we will tend to experiment more with bolder colors as accents.”

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Spotlight On: HVAC

BY Marianne Wilson

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A three-year HVAC national replacement program that increased operational efficiencies, lowered overall expenses and maximized the customer experience was reviewed in depth at the SPECS workshop session, “National HVAC Replacement Program.”

The session speaker, L.J. Mohan, VP, facilities management and energy engineering, Ralph Lauren Corp., highlighted the data used to obtain capital funding for the replacement program against competing projects in the company, and the methods used to justify and prioritize HVAC system replacements.

In making the case for such a program, Mohan made it clear that facilities management can’t go it alone.

“The CFO and COO are two very important partners for retail facilities management,” Mohan said. “We need them and we must align ourselves with their priorities.”

In the case study example, the retailer started with a pilot program in stores whose HVAC units’ EER ratings were very low, which made the end result very attractive. When the pilot was done, and the CFO saw the dollars resulting from the energy savings, the decision was made to implement the program across the chain.

In addition to energy savings, the company benefits from not having to worry about the fall-out from equipment breakdowns and not being compliant with regulations.

“It gives the CFO budget certainty,” Mohan added. Mohan explained that before senior management makes a commitment to expend capital monies, there needs to be an understanding of how the investment will benefit the company.

Mohan explained that before senior management makes a commitment to expend capital monies, there needs to be an understanding of how the investment will benefit the company.

“It’s not enough merely to show it as a ‘good idea.’ You have to demonstrate that real savings can be achieved,” he said.

HVAC replacement is currently a top-of-mind concern for many retailers. Mohan explained why: “Capital rationing in the retail industry between 2008 and 2013 has resulted in a very old and aging fleet of HVAC units.”

As a result, retailers find themselves burdened with emergency repair costs, store downtime, costly “immediate” replacements, units with non-ozone friendly refrigerants and increasing energy costs due to old, low-efficiency equipment. With the phaseout of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, R-22 has nearly quadrupled in price over the past year, Mohan advised.

Regulatory agencies and concerns about the environment are also putting increased pressure on retailers.

“Approximately 40% of the energy consumption in a small retail store is attributed to its HVAC system,” Mohan said.

Retailers’ solution to the scenario outlined above: a strategic or optimized HVAC strategy that includes a national replacement program. This allows chains to benefit from energy-efficient systems that produce more heating or air conditioning for every unit of energy consumption, dramatically reducing a company’s carbon footprint while reducing its energy costs.

The first step in developing the strategy should be a detailed condition assessment of all HVAC equipment. The assessment should include location, age, run time, serial numbers, repair and maintenance costs, and SEER ratings.

“Gathering this information is a very laborious task,” Mohan warned. “You need a partner, either a manufacturer or service provider, to help you do it. But the repercussions of not doing it are very significant.”

Retailers should also consider optimal timing in repair versus replacement. “The need for major repairs starts at eight years of use,” Mohan said. “That is the time when the ‘known risk’ period shifts to a period of uncertainty.”

Mohan reviewed HVAC spend with regard to preventive maintenance (PM) versus repair spend. In companies with PM programs rated best in class, the repair spend as a percentage of PM was 250%. But repair spend as a percentage of PM spend jumped to 753% in retailers with poor PM programs.

HVAC optimization is good for store operations in that it helps to maximize the customer experience.

“It increases reliability and allows store personnel to focus on the customer, and provides for a pleasant shopping experience,” Mohan said.

It also provides significant financial benefits in that it reduces energy and maintenance costs, minimizes complaints and unplanned capital expenditures.

“These energy savings translate into real dollars,” Mohan said. “It’s positive cash flow with attractive net present value.”

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