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Matalan Stores

Evaporative Cooling of a Major Retail Shed, West Thurrock Shopping Centre

Matalan PLC is a leading clothing and home-ware retailer with over 190 stores throughout the UK. The store in Thurrock is a large building on a retail park with an overall retail area of 2,500m2. The building is 30m wide and 83m long making it a long and narrow store.

In the early summer of 2009 the temperature levels within the store became very uncomfortable, making it difficult for the customers as well as the staff and having a detrimental effect on sales. Many customers were walking into the front of the store and walking out again without browsing towards the back of the store. Staff morale deteriorated and an increase in absenteeism was noted. There were even complaints from customers.

There was no cooling system in place and so Austin Broady Air Conditioning &  Ventilation were asked to provide a solution to the problem that was both quick to install and cost effective.

Two different cooling systems for this particular site were considered:

• Refrigeration based air conditioning to parts of the store
• Whole store cooling using Evaporative Coolers

The options provided are outlined in the table below:

*There was insufficient power supply coming into the building to provide this.
Considering the data above Evaporative Cooling was approved and installed over a two week period in July 2009. The performance of the Evaporative Coolers is dependent on the ambient weather conditions. The hotter the air and the lower the relative humidity, the greater the cooling effect. Since installation when the ambient temperature is between 25°C and 30°C the air from the cooler never exceeds 21°C. The Evaporative Coolers reduce the air temperature on a hot day by up to 10°C. After the system was installed and commissioned, temperatures in the store have not exceeded 24°C even when ambient temperatures reached 35°C. This is compared to the temperatures in the store previously which had been as high as 38°C. Since the system has been working there is a marked improvement in staff morale and because the temperature is more comfortable, customers are taking more time to dwell to the back of the store, thus increasing sales.

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