This month’s heatwave has given a stern test to the chillers and freezers in c-stores across the country, with some units proving unequal to the task.

Ramesh Shingadia of Londis Southwater in West Sussex told C-Store that two of his chillers, used for sandwiches and soft drinks, had broken under the strain of keeping products cool.

“It’s such a nightmare,” he said. “It’s a huge expense – loss of availability, wastage and wastage disposal. A couple of years back the same freezer packed up in the summer because it couldn’t cope.

“These products need to be at the front of the shop, but when the shop door is open hot air is constantly coming through and the compressor has to work extra hard to keep the contents cool.”

The engineer who came to fix the equipment told Ramesh that callouts had increased 200% during the hot weather.

Cooling expert Judith Evans of Refrigeration Developments and Testing said that maintenance and positioning were key to keeping chilled displays operating effectively. “Ideally, a cabinet needs a yearly MOT,” she said. “Although this does cost money, planned maintenance is cheaper than an emergency callout and without it you may see a 15% increase in the energy you use.”

“You can also carry out some maintenance yourself,” she added. “By keeping the condenser clean and making sure the cabinet air grilles are clear you can make sure your cabinet operates as it should.”

Evans suggested that chilling drinks in the store room would ease pressure on shopfloor equipment. “It’s more efficient to use a small cold store or even a catering fridge to do the cooling, then put goods pre-chilled into shopfloor cabinets, which simply maintain temperature. This will extend the lifetime of the display cabinets, too,” she said.