LIGHTING: Why it pays to choose your suppliers wisely

With a raft of new European legislation and standards over the last few years, the lighting industry has undergone significant changes, writes Chris Pearson, Managing Director at Pilot Group Infrastructure – home of Hilclare, the industrial and commercial lighting solutions provider.

Thankfully, these changes have not dimmed the growth of our sector. Indeed, today our industry as a whole is estimated to be worth over £2bn, and with increased focus on energy and carbon savings in the commercial and public sectors, the demand for energy efficient commercial lighting solutions will only continue.

As you know, industrial and commercial lighting covers multiple project categories and with such a wide variety of installations, it’s clear that you need to offer customers a well-defined and comprehensive portfolio of products.

Contractors will naturally turn to wholesalers for guidance in deciding which brands and models are best for their projects. Ultimately, they are looking for energy efficient and high performance lighting that will satisfy all requirements of their customers’ installation.

From lamps and LEDs, to luminaires, controls, and the latest in metal halide technology, the number of lighting options has become somewhat of a minefield, so where do you begin when planning your new line-up? Let’s look at what needs to be addressed when choosing your commercial lighting suppliers.

Types of lighting

LEDS: The growth in commercial lighting has largely been driven by the popularity of LED technologies and controls, and we will continue to see the retrofitting of more efficient lamps into existing luminaires – particularly in the retail, offices, industrial and public sectors. There’s also a growing trend for improved lighting quality and ‘whiter’ light in the private commercial sector.

As local authorities look to reduce spending, energy efficient lighting remains high on the agenda. LED lighting will continue to drive our industry and we’re gradually seeing a move away from traditional lighting such as separate luminaires, lamps and controls, towards single point lighting solutions. Therefore, look out for suppliers who offer a comprehensive LED range and LED lamps that are a direct retrofit.


By definition, a luminaire covers all aspects of a lighting unit, including the lamps as well as internal and external parts necessary for the proper operation of the unit – ie the entire device. It’s also sometimes referred to as a ‘light fixture’. Luminaires now dominate the UK commercial lighting market and future development will continue to concentrate on their energy efficiency and improved light rendering.

Growth is expected to come from LED integrated and LED replacement luminaires, so they need to form a key part of your line-up. In particular, look out for suppliers who design and manufacture their own luminaires that take full of advantage of the latest LED technology, instead of simply adapting LED technology to fit their existing fittings.


The need for more efficient lighting systems in the commercial sector has prompted a surge in demand for more sophisticated lighting controls. This is again particularly true in the public sector where greater energy savings are sought due to budget constraints. Street lighting in particular is likely to remain a key growth area, with local authorities recognising that in conjunction with controls, savings can be made by either switching off, or dimming the lights between selected hours.

Zoning, directional and space lighting continue to drive growth, as does the trend to use a variety of light sources at a single location. The spread of LED technologies and increased demand for integrated lighting solutions will also spur growth.


Every job, no matter how large or small, needs to be approached with confidence that the lighting products are of genuine quality. When contractors are working to tight deadlines, confidence in their products can make all the difference.

Product selection has a massive impact on getting the job done quickly, and the last thing your customers need is faulty lighting causing setbacks, callbacks and added cost. Hence, it’s important to source lighting from reputable suppliers who have conducted their own rigorous testing before and during manufacture, and whose products boast exceptional standards of engineering and efficiency.

Of course, the products must also meet the appropriate lighting standards for manufacturing and safety.

Hazardous areas

There are always occasions when a job demands a lighting solution that will offer a high level of protection in areas that may be hazardous, volatile or high-risk with potentially explosive gases and dust present during normal operation. These could be chemical plants, paint stores, garage forecourts and munition stores. By aligning yourselves with suppliers who provide an extensive portfolio of specialist lighting, you will be able to help your customers find the optimum solution. Here, it’s about understanding the customer’s challenge or need.

Bespoke solutions

For installations where off-the-shelf solutions are not sufficient, it pays to be able to recommend suppliers who can provide a bespoke and fully integrated luminaire and lighting solution. Suppliers who also offer a planning and design service to help ensure the calculation and execution of the project is accurate, energy efficient, and within budget, are worth their weight in gold. Most can create lighting design schemes too.

Spare parts

By sourcing quality products from reputable suppliers, you can assure customers that any spare parts or replacements will be readily available. Should the lighting system need extending at a later date, it’s more likely that the same products will still be available. Even better, why not fly the flag and support the British economy by choosing manufacturers whose products are manufactured entirely in Britain?


Suppliers with a solid reputation and a long history in the design and manufacture of lighting will naturally offer you complete assurance in their products and services. Equally, those who uphold their warranties will also bring added peace of mind. It’s important to remember that these attributes far outweigh any potential savings made by sourcing cheaper lighting alternatives. Look out for those who are continuously innovating and making luminaires that can take full of advantage of the latest LED technology.

Our industry has come a long way in recent years and it continues to evolve. By choosing your suppliers wisely, you will not only be able to satisfy your customers and capitalise on new and lucrative opportunities to grow your business, you will be able to set yourself apart from the competition.


Pictured top: Basingstoke Accident Repair Centre now enjoys improved lighting levels and significant energy savings following the installation of a new lighting system from Hilclare.