Irish LED lighting firm Nualight buys Dutch tech firm Lumoluce

13 Sep 2011

Irish lighting specialist Nualight, which is pioneering the take-up of LED lighting in the food retail space, has just acquired Lumoluce, a Dutch LED lighting technology firm, for just under €11m, in a move it says will help food retailers reap energy savings of up to 40pc by switching to LED lighting.

The acquisition of Lumoluce is expected to bring Nualight’s revenues to just over €25m for 2011, as the firm strives to accelerate its expansion into the accent lighting market for food retail, an early-stage market that is predicted to grow rapidly as food retailers around the world continue to transition to energy-efficient LED lighting.

Based in Cork, Ireland, Nualight employs 200 people and for some years the company has been providing LED lighting for refrigerated displays in food retail. According to the company, it is the only LED lighting company in the world that specialises exclusively in lighting of food retail displays. CEO Dr Liam Kelly is a leading authority in LED lighting. Nualight is chaired by Eamonn Quinn, who is formerly of the Irish supermarket chain Superquinn.

With leading global food retailers such as Walmart and Kroger having recognised the energy-saving benefits of replacing fluorescent lighting with LED in their frozen food displays, Nualight has been making steady inroads into the LED lighting sector. Some of its retail customers include Tesco, Migros, Sainsburys, The Co-operative Group, Tengelmann, Stop and Shop and Carrefour.

Coupled with its existing refrigerated display lighting business, Nualight is predicting that acquisition will allow it to target a significantly larger combined market that is predicted to reach an estimated annual size of €1bn circa 2016.

Nualight acquires Dutch LED lighting tech firm Lumoluce. From left: Dr Liam Kelly, CEO of Nualight, pictured with Gerard Kroone, current CEO of Lumoluce, who will remain in the company and joins the Nualight Board

Dr Liam Kelly, CEO of Nualight, with Gerard Kroone, CEO of Lumoluce, who will remain
in the company and joins the Nualight Board. The acquisition of Lumoluce will see Nualight
step up its drive to capture a slice of the accent lighting market globally, a sector it believes
is set to become the next opportunity for LED technology

Accent lighting – the next LED wave?

Accent lighting is spotlights that are used to accentuate high-margin fresh food displays, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and salads. Nualight is predicting that accent lighting is set to become the next opportunity for LED technology in food retail.

It says its LED accent lighting solutions are proven to save up to 40pc on energy when compared with incumbent equivalent HID lighting at comparable cost.

The company says Lumoluce, based near Amsterdam, will offer Nualight attractive growth opportunities in four additional markets: high-end retail, infrastructure, commercial lighting and drivers.

Food retailers embracing new technologies

Kelly said the transaction is the latest move in his company’s drive to expand its reach and capabilities.

“Food retailers today are very focused on deploying new technologies to make their business models as sustainable as possible. In terms of price and performance, LED technology is fast approaching the tipping point for accent lighting in food retail,” he said.

“Through this acquisition, Nualight has acquired a portfolio of products and excellent technology expertise that allows us to move very quickly into accent lighting for food retail and doubles the speed at which we can bring new products to market. It also offers us instant entry into complementary market sectors. We have high growth targets and expect to maintain and build leadership positions in our niche sectors,” added Kelly.

Gerard Kroone, CEO of Lumoluce, who will remain in the company and joins the Nualight Board, pointed to how Lumoluce has developed a strong track record in lighting technology since its inception more than 30 years ago.

“In recent years, we have developed a particular expertise in LED technology which is underpinned by innovation and application-specific lighting solutions, just like Nualight. This deal will create a combined company with an enhanced expertise, responsiveness and reach that will create new and exciting market opportunities,” said Kroone.

Clean energy investors

The acquisition was funded partly in Nualight shares and partly with an equity issuance led by existing shareholders Climate Change Capital Private Equity and ESB Novusmodus, a €200m fund established by Irish utility ESB. Its existing investments include Airvolution, InTune Networks, Lumicity, SELC and Wind Energy Direct.

The €20m Irish VC fund 4th Level Ventures was the first venture fund investor in Nualight in 2005.

Climate Change Capital

CPE is a €200m European private equity fund that invests expansion capital in high growth, later stage companies and buy-outs in the areas of clean power, clean transport, energy efficiency, waste recovery and water. CPE is backed by institutional investors including Alpinvest, Robeco and Universities Superannuation Scheme. Its existing investments include, inter alia: Climate Energy, Enecsys, Nujira, Orege, PPC, and Neura.  

Main photo: From left, Gerard Kroone, CEO of Lumoluce, and Dr Liam Kelly, CEO of Nualight

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic