Waitrose to introduce ‘invisible door’

Waitrose & Partners is set to introduce an ‘invisible door’ that, it claims, has the potential to save British retailers a combined £1.5 billion per year by reducing their energy bills.

Wirth Research’s AirDoor concept prevents warm air being lost from the store during colder temperatures, and cold air being lost during warmer temperatures, as customers enter and leave through the door.

AirDoor provides an archway that sits outside the store, located around the frame of the existing entrance. It incorporates sensors that detect the airflow in both directions, which is then counteracted by an opposing, self-generating wind. The result is an invisible, active ‘barrier’, preventing unwanted outside air flowing into the building and inside air escaping. There is minimal disruption to the customer and it negates the need for revolving doors or lobbies.

AirDoor is scheduled to launch at the supermarket chain’s Berkhamsted store in Hertfordshire later this year and, if successful, there are plans to roll it out to more Waitrose shops.

Jim Burnett, senior manager of technical services at Waitrose & Partners, said: “We are always looking to find innovative ways to reduce our impact on the environment and while we know we still have a lot of work to do, the potential of the AirDoor could be key in helping us make our shops even more sustainable in the future.”

Nick Wirth, president and founder of Wirth Research, said: “AirDoor is a response to a global and increasingly urgent issue – and there is no direct competition. It represents a solution that improves the customer experience, delivers annual energy savings and reduces carbon emissions – exemplifying Waitrose as a standard-bearer in the supermarket industry when it comes to ‘green’ thinking.

“The UK high street is facing ever greater competition from online retailers, but AirDoor combats this by incorporating the energy-saving advantages of an actual door without creating a physical barrier to the customer.”

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