Bill Grimsey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bill Grimsey
Born (1952-01-21) 21 January 1952 (age 68)
Kensington, London, England

William Grimsey (born 21 January 1952, in Kensington, London) is an English businessman who has specialised in the food and DIY sectors, most notably at Wickes, Iceland, and Focus (DIY).

Early career[edit]

Grimsey left school at 15 to become a butcher's boy. Under pressure from his father he then trained as a civil engineer for two years before returning to college to take his A-levels, and joining Bishop's Food Stores as a trainee manager, rising to become a director. The chain was eventually bought by Booker. When Bishop's merged with Budgens in 1986, Grimsey joined Tesco to work for Lord MacLaurin.

In 1988, Grimsey left to run Hutchison Whampoa's Park n' Shop supermarket chain in Hong Kong, where he remained five years, increasing profits twentyfold. He then returned to the United Kingdom for a short spell at Kingfisher plc.[1]


He then ran Wickes' joint venture in South Africa, returning to England again in July 1996 to take up the position of managing director of WBS, the Wickes' retailing subsidiary which was at the centre of serious accounting irregularities. In November Grimsey moved to Wickes to oversee its recovery from the accounting irregularity scandal that saw its share price suspended and the banks foreclosing.[2] Grimsey launched a rights issue,[3] started an employee share scheme, and turned around the company to the point where it was bought by Focus-Do-It-All, backed by Duke Street Capital for a reported £289m in September 2000. He believed this represented fair value for shareholders at the time,[4] yet four years later the business was sold again for £950m to Travis Perkins.[5]


In January 2001 he took up the position of CEO of Iceland, replacing Stuart Rose who had been CEO since Iceland's merger with Booker plc in the summer of 2000.[6] Malcolm Walker, Iceland's founder & Chairman, was forced to stand down soon after as it was revealed 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 not fully cleared of these allegations until October 2004.[9]

Iceland 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. Walker returned to his previous role at Iceland.[10] Under Walker's control Iceland's website is a polemic against Grimsey's period in charge,[12] a campaign Walker continued to drive home up to 2013.[13]

FTI Palladium Partners[edit]

Grimsey had a brief spell as a Senior managing director (interim manager) at FTI Palladium Partners, London from March 2006.[14]

Focus DIY[edit]

He was appointed CEO of Focus (DIY) on its acquisition by Cerberus Capital for £230m in June 2007, stating at the time that "Focus has the potential to be one of the most successful operators in the DIY sector".[15] Two years later, in August 2009, Grimsey successfully sought a CVA agreement with creditors to save the business from administration.[16] In May 2011, with Grimsey now as chairman, the company was declared insolvent and appointed Ernst & Young as administrators.[17]

Non-executive roles[edit]

He served as a non-executive director of Capita Group plc from October 2006[18][19] until standing down in July 2010.[20]

In March 2012 he was appointed a non-executive director of Findel plc.[21]

High Street[edit]

Grimsey published a book in 2012 regarding the High Street debate: Sold Out[22] which was written for him by professional ghostwriter Teena Lyons.[23]

In 2013 he published a report on the state of the high street retail sector, The Grimsey Review,[24] which led the Labour party to appoint him as an advisor[25] but six months later he had still not met the party's leader Ed Miliband.[26]. This was updated in July 2018 with a second edition of the review. The review highlighted the problem of the UK having too much retail space and suggested that the centres of cities and towns should focus on becoming community spaces.[27]


  1. ^ Mathiason, Nick (28 January 2001). "Butcher's boy with a lot to deliver at Iceland". London: The Observer. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  2. ^ Tooher, Patrick (29 November 1996). "Wickes names Grimsey as new chief executive". The Independent. London. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  3. ^ Cope, Nigel (7 January 1997). "Wickes to resume trading today". Independent. Retrieved 16 April 2009.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Do It All at Wickes". BBC. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  5. ^ Travis nails Wickes for £950m | Business | The Guardian
  6. ^ "Iceland pays the price of Rose's organic neglect". The Independent. London. 23 January 2001. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  7. ^ Rankine, Kate (11 April 2001). "Walker quits after Iceland sales dive". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  8. ^ Cave, Andrew (21 August 2001). "'I acted properly' says Iceland's Malcolm Walker". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  9. ^ Laurance, Ben (17 October 2004). "Walker gets all-clear over Iceland". Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Iceland's history". Iceland. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  11. ^ Reece, Damian (29 December 2003). "Grimsey goes on charm offensive to woo wavering Londis shareholders". The Independent. London. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  12. ^ "The one, two, three, four, five-year recovery plan!". Archived from the original on 23 February 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  13. ^ Halliwell, James (4 September 2013). "Iceland boss Walker marks 800th store with a swipe at Grimsey". The Grocer. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Retail Experts Join FTI Palladium Partners, London". Business Wire. 27 March 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  15. ^ Groves, Michael (18 June 2007). "'The Bills' parachuted in to troubled Focus by new owner Cerberus". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  16. ^ Moya, Elena (23 August 2009). "Focus DIY in insolvency deal to save 5,000 jobs". The Guardian. London.
  17. ^ Zoe Wood; Julia Kollewe (25 May 2011). "Focus DIY to shed 3,000 jobs as stores close". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  18. ^ "Corporate governance". Capita Group plc. 2009. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  19. ^ " – Capita Group CPI:LSE". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  20. ^ Capita plc. "Annual Report 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  21. ^ Whiteaker, Jon (14 February 2012). "Findel appoints ex-Focus CEO to its board". Retail Gazette. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  22. ^ Grimsey, Bill (2012). Sold Out. Filament Publishing. p. 225. ISBN 978-1908691316.
  23. ^ Lyons, Teena. "Previous work". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  24. ^ Grimsey, Bill (September 2013). "The Grimsey Review" (PDF). Filament Publishing. p. 59. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  25. ^ Neville, Simon (10 January 2014). "Bill Grimsey to advise Labour over high streets and business rates". The Independent. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  26. ^ "Labour's High Street champion awaiting Miliband meeting". BBC News. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  27. ^ "'Re-fashion' high streets if they are to survive – Grimsey". Sky News. Retrieved 17 April 2019.