M&S living wall

Marks & Spencer has unveiled its new-look eco store in Newcastle, billed as one of the most important stores in its estate.

The 130,000 sq ft Northumberland Street outlet is the first major full-line store to undergo the changes.

It comes hard on the heels of four Simply Food refits last year in Epping, Essex; Slough, Berkshire; Heswall, Merseyside; and Oswestry, Shropshire.

The transformation forms part of the retailer’s Plan A eco and ­ethical programme “to become the world’s most sustainable retailer”.

Eco features include a 547 ft “green living wall”, comprising 16,000 plants, to help insulate the building and encourage biodiversity, offering a source of nectar for butterflies and bees and seeds for birds. A rooftop rainwater harvesting system will irrigate the wall.

LED lighting, as promoted by The Grocer’s Switch the Lights campaign, will be installed into all refrigeration display cases, and a heat pump installed to reclaim waste heat ­generated from fridges. The heat generated from the pump is then distributed to the food hall.

Mobile fridges have been replaced with energy-efficient units connected to the main refrigeration plant.

The shop is also ­trialling intelligent door sensors that can differentiate between passers-by and shoppers intending to enter the store. Over-door heaters provide an air curtain between the shop and outside, ­helping retain warmth within the food hall.

Mike Barry, director of Plan A, said the green wall was “a real standout”.