OKay Weelde reopens its doors after renovation with circular construction method

On Wednesday 8 May, OKay Weelde will reopen its doors after almost three months of building work. The store was refurbished in the style of the second generation of OKay convenience stores, including a new bakery area, new freezers and new tills. It is the first OKay that has been partly built with an innovative system that does not use mortar, so that the bricks can be reused later. With this pilot project, Colruyt Group is fulfilling its commitment in the field of circular construction methods.

Fresh and modern design
The renovated OKay in Weelde has an extra 86 m² and now measures 531 m². The store itself features a fresh and modern design. “This means we can provide our customers with even better service and play to our strengths”, says store manager Amanda Verbeek. Fresh bread is delivered every day and shop staff bake high-quality cakes and rolls in the updated bakery. The chest freezers with glass lids are also new, so customers can see immediately what products are inside. Finally, the tills were redesigned to improve the customer experience at the checkout, and green areas were created in the car park. “Over the years, we have built up a loyal base of customers who value our wide range of products, our friendly staff and the lowest prices in the area. Naturally, we intend to continue this in our updated store”, says Amanda. The range of fresh products is one of OKay’s biggest draws: fresh fruit and vegetables every day, dairy products, meat, cooked meats, fish and ready meals. OKay offers a broad mix of national brands, as well as its own brand Boni Selection and its discount brand Everyday.

Circular construction method for brickwork
OKay Weelde was given a first: the rear wall was built according to an innovative construction method. The bricks were not set using mortar, but mounted using a plastic connecting piece called an ‘insert’. When demolished, the facing bricks and inserts can be easily disassembled and reused. The project fits in with Colruyt Group's vision to test and apply circular construction methods. The main advantages are a faster construction process, less construction waste in the future thanks to the reuse of materials, and the fact that there is no need for mortar or cement, the production of which causes a lot of CO² emissions.

Minimising environmental impact
Energy-efficient construction that minimises environmental impact is very important to OKay. Since the end of 2017, OKay has been Colruyt Groups first retail format to test two stores without fossil fuels, in Stavelot and Viroinval. All second-generation stores make maximum use of sustainable techniques and materials, and the store is heated with the residual heat from the cooling system, instead of using a conventional boiler. In addition, the cooling system is powered by propane; a natural coolant that is much more environmentally friendly than chemical refrigerant gases and that reduces the CO² emissions from cooling by 90%. The LED lighting in the stores reduces energy consumption by 30% and rainwater is reused for the toilets. The building is also extremely well insulated, and the ventilation system recovers 75% of the warmth in the air.

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