ATMO Australia: 'More end users recognising NatRef business case'

By Devin Yoshimoto, May 08, 2018, 02:23 2 minute reading

Demand for future-proof systems is driving further natural-refrigerant adoption in Australia's commercial retail market, heard ATMOsphere Australia participants today.

Jon Dee, executive producer and host of Smart Money, a business sustainability programme on Sky News Business Channel, moderating the end user panel at ATMOsphere Australia.

Demand for future-proof systems and the push for energy-cost savings are driving further natural refrigerant adoption in Australia's commercial retail market, heard participants at the ATMOsphere Australia conference in Sydney yesterday.

"We can’t compete with the size of the larger stores, but what we can do is be smarter about how we operate and how we expand our business," said Petar Lujic, group CEO for Kamen Group, which recently opened IGA Market Central – Wentworth Point.

Independent Grocers of Australia is an Australian chain of supermarkets. IGA itself is owned by Metcash, but individual IGA stores are independently owned. Lujic is CEO of the Kamen Group, which owns the IGA store at Wentworth Point.

Though small compared to the country’s largest supermarket chains, Lujic emphasised the fact that the economics of natural refrigerants still made sense for them as a business despite their smaller size.

We can now focus on running our business and not on changing refrigerants." Petar Lujic, IGA Wentworth Point.

"The reality is that the economics is the first way we look at it," he said.

"What we looked at is the fact that we are constrained by costs, capital investment, and competition, but we also looked at the situation and said, ‘OK, certain refrigerants are going to be phased out’ –certainly the equipment using these synthetic gases will be banned."

"Also, in terms of efficiency, it does improve our efficiency with energy use."

Lujic also stressed the contractor’s role in communicating the reasons why natural refrigerant systems save the business money over the long term.

He called for more proactivity from end users, not just in helping to become more environmentally sustainable but also to future-proof their operations.

"These are all the pieces that are unknown, but the only way to counter that is to be proactive about it and that’s why we’ve gone with the natural refrigerants," said Lujic.

"Not just because there is an endless abundance of it, but also because it reduces our environmental impact. We can now focus on running our business and not about changing refrigerants."

This year's end user panel was chaired by award-winning broadcaster Jon Dee, who is also the writer, executive producer and host of Smart Money, a business sustainability programme on Sky News Business Channel.

"If you look at one of the simplest things that can create a real difference to their bottom line and their sustainability impact, is to go with natural refrigerants," he said.

Dee set the tone for discussion on the panel by asking each panellist to demonstrate the business case for natural refrigerants.

The panel featured several industry leading retailers in Australia and New Zealand including: Costco, Aldi Stores, IGA Wentworth Point, Coles Supermarkets, Woolworths and Countdown.

Click here for live coverage of ATMOsphere Australia 2018 on Medium.

By Devin Yoshimoto

May 08, 2018, 02:23

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