“There is a clear market trend towards smaller format stores or convenience stores. Such stores in Europe are bit larger than the ones in Japan,” Sylvain Gillaux, European Sales & Marketing Manager at SANDEN Environmental Solutions, told Accelerate Europe.

“The interesting thing is that retailers a few years ago decided that they wanted to go CO2, thinking mainly about large stores. Now they’re ‘positively trapped’ and want to use CO2 for small stores, but they couldn’t find a solution – so that is our key market,” Gillaux said.  

Since the beginning of 2016, Sanden has fitted more than 20 stores (with the remote unit) in Europe, mostly in France, with their small CO2 remote condensing units. Many of these are for Biocoop, a French organic food retailer. The units are listed in their 2016 catalogue of EU F-Gas Directive-compliant solutions. They also supply to the three biggest installers that together cover 75% of the French refrigeration market, while promoting directly to the end user as well.

“Most of them are not aware of the advantages of CO2. If they are aware, they come directly to us. It’s quite simple,” Gillaux explains.

“We bypass our partners [the installers in the French market]. We directly promote [our technology] to the retailers or store owners. More than promoting, we simply inform them that CO2 solutions adapted to their small format stores exist, so that they then request their installers or technical advisors to give them a quotation with Sanden CO2 solutions,” he says.  

Japan to Europe: Opportunity and competition

Sanden’s plug ‘n’ play CO2 systems have been very successful in the small convenience store market in Japan. On 8 September in Tokyo, the company was presented with the 19th Protection of the Ozone Layer & Prevention of Global Warming Award – organised by Japanese Newspaper Nikkan and presented by the Japanese Minister of the Environment – for their CO2 solution for small-size stores.

Now they hope to bring this know-how to Europe. “In the last eight months [since their launch in Europe] we have installed plug ‘n’ play units in 200 stores – that’s huge in Europe. In Japan, we have a bit more than 200 stores too,” Gillaux says, expressing satisfaction with the speed at which the European market is developing.

Panasonic has also launched a pilot project using CO2 plug n’ play systems, at a small COOP store in Randers, Denmark. Gillaux is not afraid of the competition.

“In Japan we are behind Panasonic, but in Europe we are the pioneers. We are manufacturing in Europe, we have a local team of engineering experts, and we want to keep this leader position. We have built key partnerships with highly recognised companies to achieve this already. And we will keep doing so all over Europe.”

Read more in the latest edition of Accelerate Europe.