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lighting displays play a much greater role in

attracting footfall in the run up to Christmas. “This rejuvenated perception of festive lighting displays has meant that shopping centres are still keen to invest in decorative lighting displays, and much more emphasis is now being placed on the design of the schemes to ensure the scheme provides customers with an experience, adds value to the brand and pushes traffic throughout the centre.” For shopping centres in particular, festive

lighting has taken on a whole new function and has become critical to their overall business strategy. With more and more people doing their Christmas shopping online, shopping centres have identified that they need to use every conceivable method to entice shoppers through their doors. Christmas lights create an immediate impact and are a great way to transform the look of a centre and captivate the attention of shoppers. Russell Brown, operation manager at MK Illumination, says: “When you consider the number of shopping centres across the UK it is essential that they are able to differentiate themselves from the competition when it matters most, at Christmas. “Many competing shopping centres

nowadays attract similar high-street stores, therefore brand image, perception and overall experience of the centre itself has become a critical factor in determining a shopper’s choice of destination. We’ve seen our business gradually move away from simple decorative schemes to conceptual, thematic light shows that help promote shopping centres and public spaces as ‘the’ destination to visit, and which people are eager to associate with.” Many indoor centres are making full use

of atriums with prominent ceiling displays that create a ‘wow factor’, while open-air shopping centres are complementing their lighting schemes with eye-catching focal pieces. At Trinity Walk in Wakefield, two 7.5 metre

reindeers decorated with over 5,000 LED lights were installed as part of the overall scheme, one positioned overlooking the main car park to welcome visitors and the other along the main shopping mall. The scheme also featured a conical 5m high Christmas tree which was decorated with bright white LEDs and bright white baubles made from a sustainable organic material. Meanwhile, at Sanderson Arcade in

Morpeth, the focus of the 2011 display was a unique sleigh and reindeer scene. This featured a unique supporting structure to give


the impression of the two reindeers pulling a sleigh and taking off into the winter sky. The distinctive lighting display provided the focus for the centre’s switch-on and helped to attract the attention of the local media. “Whereas a few years ago we would

perhaps dictate what motifs and lights would work best for the centre, we’re now seeing marketing teams approaching us with their own agendas and ideas,” says Dove. “Design is very subjective but most clients now know what works best for their centre to ensure it remains ‘on-brand’ during the Christmas period, supports their marketing initiatives and attracts their key demographic audience.” MK Illumination develops bespoke schemes specifically for each client. It keeps a firm eye on developments in the shopping centre industry to identify any gaps in the market and to ensure its latest products follow the latest trends. With sustainability in mind MK Illumination

released an organic range of products using a material that is 100 per cent biodegradable, waterproof and UV resistant. In addition, the wood used within the material is exclusively sourced from PEFC certified forests less than 100km away from the supplier. “While shopping centres often think that they can simply reduce their carbon footprint by installing energy efficient LED bulbs, at MK Illumination we’re trying to make shopping centres aware that there are other ways to improve their carbon footprint,” says Dove. “As well as looking at products made from sustainable materials they also need to consider the source of the products and the manufacturing process of the display itself. They need to understand that the final product is only one element of the entire process and it’s often the production of the scheme that’s most harmful to the environment. “At MK Illumination, we take our

responsibilities very seriously and are constantly reviewing our production methods

and seeking to develop new solutions which can help reduce our clients’ overall carbon footprint. To support this, we’ve conducted significant research into the performance of our LED bulbs to determine their overall life span and have developed an extensive range of products made entirely from biodegradable material which we can trace back to its original source.”

This year MK Illumination has expanded

the collection with a range of new motifs that have been developed purposely to minimise waste in the production process and encourage recycling. As shopping centres continue to demand unique displays that create a ‘wow factor’ MK Illumination has been eager to experiment with unconventional materials for its new motifs. This year will see the company release a range of motifs using recycled plastic bottles, which can be coloured and shaped to create stunning modern 3D concepts. The new motifs were received well at Christmasworld 2013 and MK Illumination is hoping that this new material will be used prominently in its schemes this year. “By creating something new from

something old we’re trying to push boundaries in terms of what can be created using recyclable materials,” says Dove. “Often people think that because a product is environmentally friendly then it doesn’t create a wow factor. We’ve certainly dispelled this myth with our organic range, which provide stunning day and night effects. “We believe that sustainability will become

an even more prominent issue for shopping centres over the next couple of years and have reacted quickly to develop the most extensive range of environmentally-friendly motifs on the market.”

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