Iceland (supermarket)

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Industry Retail
Founded 1970, Malcolm Walker
Headquarters Deeside, Wales, United Kingdom
Number of locations
Over 800
This article is about the supermarket chain. For the country, see Iceland. For other uses, see Iceland (disambiguation).

Iceland is a British supermarket chain operating in the UK and Ireland. Iceland's primary product lines are frozen foods, including prepared meals and vegetables. The company has an approximate 1.8% share of the UK food market.


A store in South London

Iceland began business in 1970, when Malcolm Walker opened the first store in Leg Street, Oswestry, Shropshire, England, with his business partner Peter Hinchcliffe investing £60 for one month's rent at the store.[1] They were still employees of Woolworths at the time, and their employment was terminated once their employer discovered their job on the side. Iceland initially specialised in loose frozen food.[1]

In 1993 Iceland took over the food halls of the Littlewoods department store and also acquired the French Au Gel chain. The latter move proved unsuccessful and the stores were dropped within a year.[1]

Iceland previously operated in Ireland through a franchisee, AIM Group, however in November 2013 Iceland bought the 7 stores and now operates them through its own estate. There are currently 8 stores in Ireland.[2] The chain formerly operated its own stores, before pulling out in the early 2000s. A number of its former locations were re-opened by the franchiser.

The supermarket also attempted ties with British Home Stores.[3]

In May 2000, Iceland merged with Booker plc with Booker's Stuart Rose taking the role of CEO of the merged company.[4] He left for the Arcadia Group in November 2000[5] and was replaced by Bill Grimsey in January 2001.[6]

Soon after Grimsey's appointment, Malcolm Walker, Iceland's founder and chairman, was forced to stand down as it was revealed that he had sold £13.5 million of Iceland shares five weeks before the company released the first of several profits warnings.[7][8] Walker was fully cleared of these allegations in October 2004.[9]

Iceland's holding company was renamed the Big Food Group in February 2002,[10] and attempted a refocus on the convenience sector with a bid for Londis.[11] Grimsey remained until the takeover and demerger of the Big Food Group by a consortium led by the Icelandic company, Baugur Group in February 2005.[citation needed] Walker returned to his previous role at Iceland.[10]

Iceland's website has a page critical of Grimsey's period in control.[12]

After Baugur Group collapsed in 2009, a 77% stake in Iceland came into the ownership of the Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Glitnir.[citation needed] In 2012 the stake was purchased by a consortium including Malcolm Walker and Graham Kirkham.[13]


In 1988, Iceland bought its competitor Bejam which was some two and a half times larger in terms of business.[1]

In 1996, six stores were opened in Dublin and one in Letterkenny. They all closed down in 2005 owing to financial difficulties. In November 2008, a store reopened in Ballyfermot in Dublin, after Iceland agreed a franchise deal with an Irish cash and carry company, AIM,[14] and in November 2009 a second store reopened in Finglas, Dublin. A third opened on the Navan Road in September 2010. A fourth store opened in the Ilac Centre in Dublin in November 2010. There are now five Iceland stores in Ireland. In November 2010, AIM announced plans to launch 40 new stores within four years.

Since Malcolm Walker's return to the company, Iceland has reduced the workforce by 500 jobs at the Deeside head office, with approximately 300 jobs moved in September as a result of a relocation of a distribution warehouse from Deeside to Warrington.[citation needed] During July 2006, 300 workers took industrial action with the support of their union, blocking several lorries from entering the depot. Despite this, the transfer to Warrington took place and the new warehouse was later outsourced to DHL in April 2007.[citation needed]

An Iceland store in Spain.

In January 2009, Iceland announced that it would buy 51 stores in the UK from the failed Woolworths Group chain, three days after the final 200 Woolworths stores closed their doors for the last time.[15]

In April 2009, Iceland announced plans to close its appliance showrooms by September 2009 to concentrate on food retailing.[16]

Iceland's sales for the year ended 27 March 2009 were £2.08 billion, a 16% increase on the previous year, with net profits of £113.7 million.[17]

An additional Iceland store opened in Dudley town centre on 2 December 2010 in part of the former Beatties department store, 21 years after their initial departure from the town.[18]

Iceland also operates stores in Spain and Portugal, in conjunction with Spanish-based retailer Overseas. The stores stock Iceland products as well as Waitrose's.[19]

On 28 July 2012 Iceland opened a store in Kópavogur, Iceland.[20] Today Iceland operates 3 24/7 stores located in Kópavogur and the capital Reykjavík.[21]

Sandpiper CI has five Iceland franchise supermarkets in Jersey and two in Guernsey.[22]

On 25 November 2013, Iceland acquired seven Irish stores which were previously franchised.[23] On 27 November, Iceland began selling appliances online again in partnership with DRL Limited.[24]

In May 2014, Iceland reintroduced online shopping after 7 years[25]


The company has more recently made large scale changes its promotions. In the past "Buy One Get One Free" and Meal Deals (a selection of products for a set price) were common in stores. These have now been reduced and replaced with products offering bigger packs at the original prices. The pricing system has also been changed with many products having their prices rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 25p, this is known as Clear Cut Prices.

2006 also saw a huge surge in 'Home Delivery' promotion. This service is now one of the main focuses of the company. When a customer spends £25 or more, they have the option of free same-day home delivery.

On 6 October 2008, Iceland launched their "Bonus Card", a loyalty card and replacement for the original home delivery card. Customers receive offers and vouchers from time to time.[26]

Identity and marketing[edit]

An Iceland store in Jersey

The supermarket historically advertised with the slogan "Mums Love It", which was changed to "Are we doing a deal or are we doing a deal?" and "Feel the deal" in the early 2000s. From the mid-2000s new ads featuring Kerry Katona saw a return to a slogan more traditionally associated with Iceland - "So that's why mums go to Iceland!" Katona was dropped as the face of Iceland in 2009, after a tabloid newspaper published pictures allegedly showing her taking cocaine.[27] She has since been succeeded as by Coleen Nolan, Ellie Taylor,[28] Stacey Solomon and Peter Andre.[29] Jason Donovan has also frequently appeared in the company's Christmas advert campaigns.

When the chain bought rival Bejam in 1989, they launched the TV-advertising campaign "Use Our Imagination," which included a song. The campaign was launched so quickly after the takeover that they had not time to convert all Bejam stores to the "Iceland" fascia. Because of this in the song for the commercial featured the line "We're at Bejam's too..."


Country Number of stores
 United Kingdom 800 +
 Ireland 8
 Spain 14
 Portugal 1
 Iceland 3


Iceland products are also supplied to Manx retailer Shoprite.[30] Iceland products are supplied to 11 of Shoprite's stores, 3 of which are branded as Iceland stores.[31]


In 2013, two labs, one in Dublin and another in Germany, on behalf of the Irish state agency FSAI, identified 0.1% equine DNA in some Iceland products. Malcolm Walker caused controversy when on a BBC Panorama programme (18 February 2013) he was asked why the products had passed British tests but failed the Irish ones. He replied, "Well, that's the Irish, isn't it?".[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ "Iceland Foods Ireland :: Store Location". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Julia Finch (22 March 2000). "Iceland seeks cooler image with online rebranding | Business". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^[dead link]
  7. ^ Finance. "Walker quits after Iceland sales dive". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Finance. "'I acted properly' says Iceland's Malcolm Walker". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Andrew Oxlade (23 April 2010). "Markets price in better chance of 2010 interest rate rise". This is Money. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  10. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  11. ^[dead link]
  12. ^ "Welcome to Iceland Foods". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ Garvey, Anthony. "Iceland returns to Ireland with franchise deal". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Business | Iceland buys 51 Woolworths stores". BBC News. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ [3][dead link]
  18. ^ "Iceland in move to former Beatties store « Express & Star". Express & Star. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Lawson, Alex (27 February 2012). "Iceland forms partnership in Czech Republic | Refrigeration and Air Conditioning". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  20. ^ Morgunblaðið (3 July 2012). "Iceland opens its first store in Iceland (in Icelandic)". Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  21. ^ Iceland (8 December 2014). "Iceland's Icelandic website (in Icelandic)". Ísland-Verslun hf. 
  22. ^ "Iceland • SandpiperCI". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  23. ^ "Iceland acquires its seven franchised Irish stores". Retail Week. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  24. ^ "Iceland launches white goods site in tie-up with owner DRL". The Grocer. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "Iceland to launch click and collect service". marketing week. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  26. ^[dead link]
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Iceland". Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  31. ^ "Iceland store opening is good for Ramsey". Isle of Man Today. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  32. ^[dead link]

External links[edit]