Iceland (supermarket)

Iceland (supermarket)

Infobox Company
company_name = Iceland
company_logo =
company_type = Private
foundation = 1970, Malcolm Walker
location = Deeside, Wales, UK
industry = Retail
num_employees = 1,000+ (2008)
homepage = []

Iceland is a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, partly owned by the Icelandic retailer conglomerate Baugur. Iceland's primary product lines include frozen foods such as frozen prepared meals and frozen vegetables. Iceland's product range includes consumer durables such as freezers and refrigerators which are sold in larger stores. The supermarket claims to have invented the concept of Buy One, Get One Free in the UK.


Iceland's beginnings date to November 1970. Malcolm Walker opened the first store in Oswestry, Shropshire with his business partners Peter Hinchcliffe, Colin Harris and Thomas Duffin investing £30 each. This was for only one month's rent at their Shropshire store. They were all 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.

By 1975, there were 15+ Iceland outlets in North Wales, with the first "supermarket-style" outlet opening in Manchester a couple of years later. The firm's head office moved to Deeside, Flintshire in 1979. Iceland was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1984, by which stage it had 81 outlets.

In 1989 Iceland bought its competitor Bejam which was some three times larger in terms of business. By January 2004, the chain had 760 stores throughout the United Kingdom.


Finding the retail market more hostile in the late 1990s, Iceland pursued avenues for differentiation. In 1998, the firm began to focus on providing organic food and Genetically modified-free food. This policy saw the company convert its entire frozen vegetable range to organic in 2000.

In 1999, Iceland launched what it claimed to be the first nationwide, free, online grocery shopping service. This tied in with the rebranding of all outlets under the, the rebranding exercise was quietly abandoned in the early 2000s, as the unadorned "Iceland" name is once more used for this purpose, although some stores still have the name on display.

The supermarket also attempted ties with British Home Stores [ [,2763,184599,00.html Iceland seeks cooler image with online rebranding ] "] .

Recent developments and difficulties

Following several years of declining sales, The Big Food Group was bought by Icelandic firm Baugur in February 2005. Malcolm Walker was installed as chief executive again, having been cleared of insider dealing in 2004, following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. Since Malcolm Walker's return to the company, the company has reduced the workforce by 500 jobs at the Deeside Head Office, with approximately 300 jobs relocated in September as a result of a re-location of a distribution warehouse from Deeside to Warrington. The union response included strike action and during July 2006, 300 workers struck, 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.

Closure of stores

The seven stores in the Republic of Ireland were closed in 2005, with the loss of 160 jobs. Some stores in Scotland were also affected: In 2007, the Kirkcaldy store, originally a Bejam before the 1989 takeover and the first Iceland store in Fife, was closed. The premises are now filled by a tile retailer. The store in the Almondvale centre, Livingston, West Lothian, was closed following losses. It was claimed by staff that the losses were due to the extension works to the centre, which are due for completion in 2008 or early 2009, and had resulted in shoppers bypassing the area that the store was located in. The Perth store was also closed and is now inhabited by Lloyd's Pharmacy.


The company has recently made large scale changes to the kinds of promotions it offers on products. In the past "Buy One Get One Free" and Meal Deals (a selection of products for a set price) were common in stores, although 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 (i.e. £1.29 becomes £1.25), this is known as Clear Cut Prices and aims to simplify the pricing system.

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 on their shopping they have the option of free same-day home delivery.

Bonus Card

On October 6 2008, Iceland launched Bonus Card, a loyalty card and replacement for the original home delivery card with additional features. Customers who register for the new card receive offers and coupons from time to time, also whenever the card is used in store the customer is entered into a monthly prize draw.

The Bonus Card loyalty card scheme and associated databases are being managed by marketing agency The Black Hole, whose other clients inclue Argos and M&M Direct. [ [ Iceland appoints Black Hole to manage loyalty card scheme] "]

Identity and marketing

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. The new adverts featuring television personality Kerry Katona has seen a return to a slogan more traditionally associated with Iceland - "So that's why mums go to Iceland". Their slogans have often been parodied.

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

Iceland staff have recently been given new uniforms. The uniform consists of a red polo-shirt with an orange band on the collar and sleeves, A black nylon jacket with the Iceland logo embroidered on it and black trousers.


The 2006 and 2007 series of "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" were sponsored by Iceland. This was a major sponsorship deal for the supermarket, and particularly fitting because of Kerry Katona, appearing on the Iceland advertisements; she also therefore appeared on the sponsorship adverts. The celebrity's autobiography appeared for sale in these supermarkets when it first was published. In 2007, former contestant Jason Donovan appeared as well as Kerry Katona and workers of the company had to wear green T-shirts displaying the TV shows' logo for the duration of the series and associated promotion. Scratch and peel cards were given to customers who spent over £10 in store, prizes included money off products and a holiday in Australia.


External links

* [ Iceland's official website]
* [ The Iceland story]
* [ News Story regarding closure of the Deeside Warehouse]

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