Iceland (supermarket)

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

Iceland Foods Ltd
Founded18 November 1970; 51 years ago (1970-11-18) in Oswestry, Shropshire
FounderSir Malcolm Walker
HeadquartersDeeside, Wales, United Kingdom
Number of locations
1000+ (2020)
Key people
ProductsFrozen foods
£157 million (2019)
Number of employees
30,000 (2020) Edit this on Wikidata

Iceland Foods Ltd is a British supermarket chain headquartered in Deeside, North Wales.[1] It has an emphasis on the sale of frozen foods, including prepared meals and vegetables. They also sell non-frozen grocery items such as produce, meat, dairy and dry goods, and additionally through a chain of shops bearing the sub-brand name, The Food Warehouse. The company has an approximate 2.2% share of the UK food market.


Iceland Foods began business in 1970, when Malcolm Walker opened the first store in Leg Street, Oswestry, Shropshire, England, with his business partner Peter Hinchcliffe. Together, they invested £60 for one month's rent at the store.[2] They were still employees of Woolworths at the time, and their employment was terminated once their employer discovered their other roles. Iceland Foods initially specialised in loose frozen food.[3] In 1977, they opened a store in Manchester selling own-labelled packaged food, and by 1978 the company had 28 stores.[4]

In 1983, the business grew by purchasing the 18 stores of Bristol-based St. Catherine's Freezer Centres, and in 1984 the business went public for the first time.[4] The cash investment was used to purchase South East-based Orchard Frozen Foods in 1986, and the purchase of larger rival Bejam in 1988. In 1993, the firm took over the food halls of the Littlewoods department store and also acquired the French Au Gel chain. This last move proved unsuccessful and the stores were dropped within a year.[3]

Around 2000, the company attempted ties with British Home Stores.[5] In May 2000, Iceland Foods merged with Booker plc, and Booker's Stuart Rose took the role of CEO of the merged company.[6] He left for the Arcadia Group in November 2000[7] and was replaced by Bill Grimsey in January 2001.[8]

Iceland store on Camberwell Road, south London

Soon after Grimsey's appointment, Malcolm Walker, Iceland Foods's founder and chairman, was forced to stand down, as it was revealed that he had sold £13.5 million of Iceland Foods shares just five weeks before the company released the first of several profits warnings.[9][10]

Iceland Foods' holding company was renamed the Big Food Group in February 2002,[11] and attempted a refocus on the convenience sector with a bid for Londis.[12] 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 subsequently returned to his previous role at Iceland Foods.[11] Iceland Foods's website has a page critical of Grimsey's period in control.[13]

After Baugur collapsed in 2009, a 77% stake in the firm 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.[14]

After Walker's return to the company, Iceland Foods reduced the workforce at the Deeside head office by 500, with approximately 300 jobs moved as a result of relocation of a distribution warehouse to Warrington.[citation needed]

The interior of an Iceland supermarket in Horwich, Bolton, Greater Manchester

In January 2009, Iceland Foods 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.[15] In April 2009, Iceland Foods announced plans to close its appliance showrooms by September 2009 to concentrate on food retailing.[16] Iceland Foods'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 Foods 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]

In 2013, two labs, one in Ireland and another in Germany, on behalf of the Irish state agency FSAI, identified 0.1% equine DNA in some Iceland Foods 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?".[19]

In November 2013, the firm began selling appliances online again in partnership with DRL Limited.[20] In May 2014, the firm reintroduced online shopping, which had been dropped in 2007.[21]

In January 2018, Iceland Foods announced that it would end the use of plastic for all of its own-brand products by the end of 2023.[22][23]

Operations outside the UK[edit]

In 1996, eight stores were opened in Ireland, seven in Dublin and one in Letterkenny. They all closed down in 2005 owing to financial difficulties.[citation needed] In November 2008, Iceland Foods re-entered the Irish market, reopening a store in Ballyfermot in Dublin after agreeing a franchise deal with an Irish cash and carry company, AIM.[24] In November 2009, a second Dublin store reopened in Finglas. In November 2013, Iceland Foods acquired seven Irish stores which were previously franchised.[25]

Iceland Foods also operates stores in Spain and Portugal (countries with substantial British communities), in conjunction with Spanish-based retailer Overseas. The stores stock Iceland products as well as Waitrose produce.[26] On 28 July 2012, the firm opened a store in Kópavogur, Iceland,[27] and subsequently in the capital, Reykjavík.[28] Sandpiper CI has six Iceland Foods franchise supermarkets in Jersey and four in Guernsey.[29]

Via franchise agreement with a local food importer and distributor, Iceland Foods operates in Malta. Initially, in 1998, this was the supply only of Iceland Foods-branded products to supermarkets, but in 2015 the operation opened stores in Birkirkara, followed by Mosta, Qawra and Marsascala in 2018.[30] The Malta offering differs substantially from that in the UK: there is a greater emphasis on non-frozen produce, and stores feature fresh fruit and veg, and bakery sections.


In 2006, a policy of "round sum pricing" was introduced,[13] with many products priced in multiples of 25p.

2006 also saw a surge in home delivery promotion, which is now one of the main focuses of the company. When a customer spends £25 or more whilst shopping in store, they have the option of free next-day home delivery, choosing from available timeslots. Customers can also shop online and receive free next day home delivery when they spend more than £40.[31]

In October 2008, Iceland Foods launched the Bonus Card, a loyalty card and replacement for the original home delivery card. It allows customers to save money onto the card, with the firm putting £1 onto the card each time a customer saves £20, and gives occasional discounts, offers, and entry to competitions—including their main competition, in which each month one Bonus Card holder from every store wins the entire cost of their shop.[32]

Identity and marketing[edit]

Iceland Foods logo from 2001 until 2015, still used as a secondary logo

Iceland Foods 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 ads featuring Kerry Katona saw a return to a slogan more traditionally associated with Iceland Foods – "So that's why mums go to Iceland!" Katona was dropped as the face of Iceland Foods in 2009, after a tabloid newspaper published pictures allegedly showing her taking cocaine.[33] She was succeeded by Coleen Nolan, Ellie Taylor,[34] Stacey Solomon and Jason Donovan, who has also frequently appeared in the company's Christmas advertisement campaigns. Peter Andre is the current face of the firm.[35] The current main tagline is the truncated "That's why mums go to Iceland". Store fronts also bear the tagline "food you can trust", and carrier bags in stores bear the tagline "the frozen food experts". Since May 2015, the TV adverts have used the tagline and hashtag of "Power Of Frozen"[36] and are fronted and voiced over by Peter Andre.

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 no time to convert all Bejam stores to the "Iceland" fascia. Therefore, the song for the commercial featured the line "We're at Bejam's too..."

In 2013, Iceland Foods stores appeared in a BBC documentary called Iceland Foods: Life in The Freezer Cabinet. The firm was the main sponsor of the ITV reality TV show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! from its sixth series in 2006 until its fourteenth series in 2014.

In 2018, Iceland announced they would end use of palm oil in all their own brand products due to concern over environmental impact of palm oil.[37] It was the first major UK supermarket to ban palm oil.[38]

In January 2020/2021, Iceland Foods stores appeared in two Channel 5 series called Inside Iceland: Britain’s Budget Supermarket.[39][40]


The first Swift store in Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne

In 2014 Iceland Foods announced a sub-brand, The Food Warehouse,[41] a larger wholesale-type store which sells the same items as other Iceland Foods stores, but in bulk.[42] As of 2021 there are 140 Food Warehouse stores.[43]

In April 2021, Iceland Foods announced another sub-brand, Swift, for convenience stores.[43]


Dispute over the trademark "Iceland"[edit]

Iceland Foods Ltd has been accused by the government of Iceland of engaging in abusive behaviour by trademarking the name of the country, and of "harass[ing] Icelandic companies and even the Icelandic tourism board" by pursuing legal action against Icelandic companies which use the name of their country in their trading names.[44] In November 2016, the Icelandic government filed a legal challenge at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to have the company's trademark invalidated "on the basis that the term 'Iceland' is exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition, often rendering the country's firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic".[45] The Iceland Magazine noted that:

Iceland Foods was founded in 1970, but only acquired the Europe wide trademark registration of "Iceland" in 2005. According to the Sagas Iceland, the nation, was established in 874. It is an insult to common sense to maintain that the supermarket chain has a stronger claim to the trademark than the country.[44]

In April 2019, The EUIPO invalidated the Iceland trademark.[46]

2018 Rang-tan advert controversy and ban[edit]

In November 2018, Iceland Foods submitted a version of an animated short starring a fictional orangutan named Rang-tan (originally released by Greenpeace[47]) to Clearcast, but the submission was denied.[48] Iceland Foods originally planned to utilise the short as the television advertisement that Christmas season, as an extension of their earlier palm oil reduction campaign.[49]


An Iceland store in Torrevieja, Spain
Country Number of stores
United Kingdom 960+
Ireland 27[50]
Spain 15[51]
Czech Republic 11[52]
Iceland 7[53]
Norway 5[54]
Jersey 5[55]
Malta 4[56]
Guernsey 4[55]
Portugal 4


  1. ^ "Contact Us – About Iceland".
  2. ^ "The Iceland Story". Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Iceland Group plc – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Iceland Group plc". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b "History of the big Food Group – Funding Universe". Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  5. ^ Julia Finch (22 March 2000). "Iceland seeks cooler image with online rebranding". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Sir Stuart Rose's legacy at M&S". BBC News. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Sir Stuart Rose". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  8. ^ "Iceland pays the price of Rose's organic neglect". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 January 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Walker quits after Iceland sales dive". The Daily Telegraph. 31 January 2001. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  10. ^ Finance (20 August 2001). "'I acted properly' says Iceland's Malcolm Walker". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  11. ^ a b "The Iceland story". 14 December 2007. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  12. ^ Townsend, Abigail (4 January 2004). "Londis shareholders wooed with letters from Iceland". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  13. ^ a b "The Dark Ages". Archived from the original on 22 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Iceland Foods CEO Walker Purchases U.K. Frozen Food Chain for $2.3 Billion". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Iceland buys 51 Woolworths stores". BBC News. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Iceland Foods Closes Appliances Showrooms" (PDF). Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Iceland announces record sales figures". Wales Online. 13 June 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Iceland in move to former Beatties store". Express & Star. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  19. ^ "Iceland boss apologises for comment about 'the Irish'". 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 15 March 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Iceland launches white goods site in tie-up with owner DRL". The Grocer. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  21. ^ Vizard, Sarah (23 December 2013). "Iceland to launch click and collect service". Marketing Week. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Iceland supermarket chain aims to be plastic free by 2023". BBC News. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  23. ^ "ICELAND AIMS TO BE PLASTIC-FREE ACROSS OWN LABEL RANGE BY 2023" (PDF). Iceland. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  24. ^ Garvey, Anthony. "Iceland returns to Ireland with franchise deal". Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Iceland acquires its seven franchised Irish stores". Retail Week. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  26. ^ Lawson, Alex (27 February 2012). "Iceland forms partnership in Czech Republic | Refrigeration and Air Conditioning". Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  27. ^ Morgunblaðið (3 July 2012). "Iceland opens its first store in Iceland (in Icelandic)". Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Iceland búðir" (in Icelandic). Ísland-Verslun hf. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  29. ^ "Iceland • SandpiperCI". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  30. ^ "About Us |". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Terms & Conditions". Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  32. ^ "Discover the Iceland Bonus Card – Bursting with benefits". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  33. ^ Stephen Brook. "Kerry Katona dropped by Iceland". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  34. ^ "N'Ice Work Ellie" (PDF). Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  35. ^ "Peter Andre announced as new face of supermarket chain Iceland". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  36. ^ "Iceland debuts Power of Frozen television advertising campaign". FoodBev. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  37. ^ Iceland to be first UK supermarket to cut palm oil from own-brand products The Guardian. 10 April 2018
  38. ^ "Iceland supermarkets to ban palm oil in own-brand products". BBC News. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  39. ^ Inside Iceland: Britain's Budget Supermarket (TV Series 2020) - IMDb, retrieved 4 May 2021
  40. ^ "Inside Iceland: Britain's Budget Supermarket". Sky. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  41. ^ Welcome to The Food Warehouse by Iceland Foods Retrieved 27 December 2021
  42. ^ Halliwell, James (18 July 2014). "Iceland to launch new Food Warehouse discount store". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  43. ^ a b Farrell, Steve (19 March 2021). "Swift: what is it like inside Iceland's new convenience store?". The Grocer. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  44. ^ a b "No solution in sight in absurd trademark dispute between Iceland and UK supermarket".
  45. ^ Butler, Sarah (24 November 2016). "Iceland government challenges retail chain Iceland over name use". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  46. ^ "Iceland wins EU trademark battle against United Kingdom-based supermarket chain". Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  47. ^ "World Orangutan Day: Numbers in decline despite Indonesian government's claims" (Press release). Greenpeace International. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  48. ^ "Iceland advert" (Press release). Clearcast. 9 November 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  49. ^ Gwynn, Simon (9 November 2018). "Clearcast halted Iceland's plans to reuse Greenpeace 'Rang-tan' film". PRWeek. Haymarket Media Group. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  50. ^ "Iceland IE store finder". Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  51. ^ "Iceland International". Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  52. ^ "Iceland Czech a.s." Iceland Czech a.s. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  53. ^ "Official Iceland (Iceland) Website". Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  54. ^ "Our stores (Norwegian) |Own page". 7 September 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  55. ^ a b "Iceland – Sandpiper CI". Sandpiper CI. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  56. ^ Bonello, Claire (13 April 2008). "Supermarkets 'r' us?". Times of Malta. OCLC 220797156. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011.

External links[edit]