Refrigeration in the Trade - prospects for refrigerator industry

In its study „Refrigeration in the Trade 2001“, the EuroHandels Institut (EHI) e.V., - EuroTrade Institute – in Cologne forecasts slightly improved prospects for this branch of industry. To judge from statements in the trade, the manufacturers of refrigerators can look to the future with subdued optimism. For over 70% of the German trading companies which took part in a survey on „Trends for refrigerators in the trade“, carried out by EHI in the lead up to the EuroShop 2002, are assuming that procurement of replacements planned for the next two years will turn out to be higher compared with the preceding two-year period.

Those taking part in the study were primarily retail entrepreneurs with branches and purchasing companies. In contrast there was restrained participation to be noted among the pure discounters. Only a very limited range of statements and results can therefore be made or published specifically for the discount markets in this evaluation.

The study first covered the types of refrigerator usually to be found in the sales lines and their space requirements. In the consumer markets and self-service department stores an average of just on 19 metres length is estimated for service counters, in supermarkets the estimate is about a third less, at 12.5 metres. Basically this covers the categories Meat, Sausages & Cold Cuts, Cheeses and Delicatessen. In the case of refrigerated shelving for self-service goods the corresponding figures are 30.1 and 17.7 metres respectively.

Comparable figures for this sales line can only be estimated for discount markets. If we compare, for example, the average sales area of discount shops with that of supermarkets on the basis of the EHI comparative study, then we can assume a figure of about 13 to 15 metres. Service counters are not usually to be found in the discount sector.

Freezer chests in the extra refrigeration sector – excluding the discounters again – are used in only every third shop, primarily in the bigger consumer markets and self-service department stores and always to complement the wall shelving but never to replace it.
In the big types of shop with over 1,500 m2 sales area roughly 48 metres is taken for freezers, more than twice as much as in the supermarkets at 23.1 metres – though it must be noted here that the evaluation has taken cabinets, chests and sets together.
More Willingness to Invest in Replacements

Plug-in units have by now become established in the retail food trade and account for shares between just on 9 per cent in the supermarkets and more than 15 per cent in the big concerns - even in the discounters they achieve a share of 10 per cent, after all.
But the „classic“ compound units will presumably also continue their clear domination.

How do things look in the near future from the standpoint of the trade? There is definitely a willingness to invest in replacements, at least according to statements from the various companies. About three quarters of the companies questioned assume there will be an increase in replacement investment in the next two years, the rest regard at least a consistent level as realistic. Surprisingly the improvement in presentation of the goods is an important criterion in changing out equipment. Almost 90 per cent of the companies taking part in the study gave this reason. Reducing energy consumption was given only second place - together with improving the overall shop fittings – by about two thirds of the companies.
Only a third of the companies involved mentioned greater ease of servicing, which therefore plays a rather subordinate role.

Further reduction in energy consumption is nonetheless the most frequent demand put to the manufacturers for future improvements; further potential is also seen in more effective lighting.

The growing internationalization of trade, expressed for example in cross-border co-ordination of individual sales lines, is also an interesting subject for just on 56 per cent of the companies questioned. There is a united opinion that national borders are no reason for preferring different manufacturers or equipment. i.e., even in the case of cross-border sales lines, the same units are used.

A third of the companies taking part in the study gave the age of the existing units as the reason for replacement in the near future. The technical service life of sales refrigerators seems to be extraordinarily high at 15 to 17 years – whether the external appearance and presentation of the goods still meet modern demands after this period of time is another question. The trade allows a somewhat shorter service life of about 10 years for impulse purchase ice cream chests.

- Study by EHI