The Iceland Story

Iceland Foods is a unique British food retailer with over 900 stores throughout the UK, a further
40 owned or franchised stores across Europe, and a global export business. This is its story.

Iceland Timeline

2017

1970

Malcolm Walker opens the first Iceland shop in Oswestry, Shropshire, selling loose frozen food.
2017

1975

The business has grown to 15 Iceland stores in North Wales and the North West, supported by a cold store in Rhyl.
2017

1978

Iceland opens its first purpose-built freezer centre at Stretford, Manchester, in 1978, and introduces own brand products.
2017

1979

The company opens a new cold store and head office at Deeside, Flintshire.
2017

1980

Iceland has grown to 37 stores.
2017

1984

Iceland has 81 stores and becomes a public company through one of the most successful flotations ever seen on the London Stock Exchange.
2017

1986

Iceland becomes the first UK supermarket to remove artificial colourings, flavourings, non-essential preservatives and monosodium glutamate from its own brand products, two decades before some of its major rivals.
2017

1989

Iceland acquires its much larger, southern-based rival Bejam, creating a truly national chain with 465 stores.
2017

1990

Iceland bans mechanically recovery meat (MRM) from all Iceland brand products.
2017

1995

Iceland has grown to 752 stores and enjoyed 25 consecutive years of sales and profit growth.
2017

1996

Iceland introduces its unique free home delivery service, extended nationwide in 1997.
2017

1999

Iceland becomes the first food retailer to guarantee that its complete own label range is free of GM ingredients.
2017

1999

Iceland launches the UK’s first nationwide home shopping service.
2017

2000

Iceland makes a recommended offer for Booker, the UK’s largest cash-and-carry operator, with the aim of exploiting buying and other synergies between the two businesses.
2017

2001

New Iceland chief executive Bill Grimsey issues a massive profit warning, and Malcolm Walker and other senior managers are forced to leave the company
2017

2002

Iceland-Booker is renamed The Big Food Group and launches a grandiose recovery plan (Click here to read the saga of ‘The one, two, three, four, five year recovery plan’) but customer numbers and sales remain in steady decline while costs escalate.
2017

2004

The Big Food Group is nearing bankruptcy as provisions made in 2001 come close to exhaustion.
2017

2005

The Big Food Group is taken private and Iceland returned to the management of Malcolm Walker and other senior executives who had been ejected in 2001.
2017

2006

A spectacular turnaround sees a 10% sales decline turned into growth of 20% year-on-year by March 2006, making Iceland the UK’s fastest-growing food retailer.
2017

2006

Iceland introduces round pound pricing and begins sponsorship of the flagship ITV show ‘I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!’
2017

2007

Iceland is restored to robust financial health, generating cash and recording an operating profit of almost £100 million.
2017

2009

Iceland opens more than 70 new stores across the UK, including 51 bought from the receivers of Woolworths, and sales exceed £2 billion for the first time.
2017

2009

Iceland flies almost 800 store, regional and area managers for a five day conference at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
2017

2010

Iceland celebrates its 40th anniversary with a spectacular Charity Ball that raised over £750,000 for its Charity of the Year, Help for Heroes.
2017

2011

The Iceland Everest Expedition raises over £1 million for charity partner Alzheimer’s Research UK. CEO Malcolm Walker (65) and his son Richard (30) reach the North Col of Everest at 23,000ft and four other members of the team reach the summit.
2017

2012

Iceland is named Best Big Company to Work For in the UK, and Most Improved big company, while CEO Malcolm Walker is named Best Leader of a big company in the UK at the Sunday Times Best Companies awards.
2017

2012

Malcolm Walker concludes a successful £1.45 billion management buyout of Iceland, backed by co-investors Brait S.A., Lord Kirkham and The Landmark Group.
2017

2012

Iceland announces its seventh consecutive set of record results, with sales of £2.614 billion and record EBITDA of £230.2 million.
2017

2012

Iceland enters food production by acquiring its supplier Loxton Foods, later renamed Iceland Manufacturing Limited.
2017

2012

Malcolm Walker takes part In The Footsteps of Legends: The Iceland Antarctic Expedition, raising funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK and Walking With The Wounded.
2017

2013

Iceland begins trials of a new online shopping service, re-entering a market place it had led in 1999, but left to focus on the recovery of the core business in 2005.
2017

2013

Iceland features in a three-part reality documentary series “Iceland Foods: Life In The Freezer Cabinet” on BBC2.
2017

2013

Malcolm Walker publishes his autobiography, Best Served Cold, with all proceeds being donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
2017

2013

Iceland takes direct control of its seven franchised stores in the Republic of Ireland.
2017

2014

Iceland is named Best Big Company To Work For in the UK for the second time in three years, having been placed second in 2013.
2017

2014

Malcolm Walker is named "Most People Focused CEO" at the annual HR Excellence Awards
2017

2014

Iceland completes the national roll-out of its online shopping service, well ahead of schedule.
2017

2014

Iceland opens the first of its new concept larger stores, The Food Warehouse.
2017

2015

Iceland launches its new “Power of Frozen” marketing campaign, designed to change public perceptions of frozen food.
2017

2015

Iceland launches an exclusive new range of Slimming World ready meals.
2017

2015

Iceland inspires and helps to create the UCL Retail Partnership of nine retailers pledged to donate some or all of their revenues from the sale of single-use carrier bags to dementia research.
2017

2015

Iceland forms a new partnership with the South African investment holding company Brait, which increases its shareholding in the business to 57%.
2017

2016

Iceland announces the recruitment of two industry stars, Neil Nugent and David Lennox, to create a new food development team for the Iceland brand.
2017

2016

Iceland is named Britain’s top online store in the annual supermarket survey conducted by consumer champions Which?
2017

2016

Iceland launches the latest phase of its ‘Power of Frozen’ TV advertising, capturing the reactions of real families to surprise deliveries of Iceland food, and begins a new partnership with the vlogging network Channel Mum.
2017

2016

In response to the strong growth of its online business, Iceland opens its first ‘dark store’ dedicated to online order picking at Tipton in the West Midlands.
2017

2016

Iceland launches an exclusive new range of Pizza Express frozen pizzas, prepared meals and desserts, adding to its established roster of exclusive brand partnerships with Slimming World, Millie’s Cookies and Greggs.
2017

2016

Malcolm Walker officially opens Iceland’s new £2 million Development Kitchen at the company’s head office in Deeside.
2017

2016

Iceland opens an exciting new style of store in Clapham, London, following a comprehensive refit and modernisation.
2017

2017

Iceland announces that work had begun on the second phase of a £5 million investment programme at its head office in Deeside, Flintshire.
2017

2017

Iceland presents a £3 million cheque to UCL Dementia Research: the first instalment of a total of £10 million pledged to UCL to support its development of the hub of the new UK Dementia Research Institute.
2017

2017

Iceland is named Best Online Supermarket in the UK for the second consecutive year in a survey by consumer champion Which?
2017

2017

Iceland tops The Grocer’s league table of the Top 50 Independent Retailers in the UK
2017

2017

Iceland is named Online Supermarket of the Year at The Grocer Gold Awards, where it also wins Business Initiative of the Year for the Iceland Kitchen.
2017

2017

Iceland celebrates the award of a knighthood to its Founder & Executive Chairman Malcolm Walker.
2017

2017

Iceland continued its run of awards success by winning an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Retail Industry Awards and being named Online Retailer of the Year at the IGD Awards, where Sir Malcolm Walker was also presented with The Grocer Cup for outstanding leadership.

2018

2018

Iceland becomes the first major retailer in the world to commit to eliminating plastic packaging from its own label products – to be completed by 2023.
2018

2018

Sir Malcolm Walker receives the night’s top award for Outstanding Contribution to Retail at the Retail Week Awards, where Iceland is also named Community Retailer of the year for its Beating Dementia Campaign.
2018

2018

The Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation fulfils its pledge to donate a total of £10 million to fund the Hub of the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL, a year ahead of schedule.
2018

2018

Iceland becomes the first UK supermarket to remove palm oil as an ingredient in all its own label food – to be completed by the end of 2018.