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Iceland Group logo

Iceland, specialising in the retail of frozen foods and electrical appliances across the United Kingdom, began trading in 1970, when two young entrepreneurs, Malcolm Walker and Peter Hinchcliffe, rented a shop in Oswestry and bought freezers and stock on credit. By 1975 they had 18 stores across North Wales. This growth was facilitated by the use of a large coldstore in Rhyl in 1973. They bought out small freezer centres as well as establishing new stores developing on a reputation of bright, clean and well fitted out stores. In 1977, they opened a store in Manchester that marks the beginning of Iceland as it is known now selling convenient pre-packed foods.

In 1981, Walker and Hinchcliffe sold 16% of the business to the British Rail Pension Fund for 1.6 million. In 1982, Iceland started to market its own-label range, opened new offices in Deeside, and updated their computer system. In 1983, Iceland became a public company and acquired St. Catherine's chain of 18 stores just before they went bankrupt. On the 16th October 1984 Iceland was floated on the stock exchange. They bought out Orchard Frozen Foods and there was an acrimonious merger with Bejam. By the end of 1986 Iceland could truly claim to be a national food company.

In the 1990's Iceland developed new ways of serving customers in their homes and in the development of ethical food retailing in the UK. In October 1999, Iceland launched the world's first national food home shopping service on the internet, free of charge, subject to a minimum order value. By the end of 1999 Iceland were UK's third largest frozen food supplier to caterers, Woodward Foodservice.

The appliance division, in October 1998, launched the Kyoto range of environmentally friendly fridges and freezers - the first products in the world ever to be endorsed by Greenpeace. They also developed the appliance service and delivery business.

In January 2000, Iceland announced an agreement with Bhs to open food sections in up to 100 of their stores by the end of 2001. In March 2000 new branding under Iceland.co.uk, and also revealed that they were on their way to becoming the first UK food retailer to guarantee that all its meat is raised on entirely GM-free diets. And in June 2000, Iceland announced a 9 million investment to bring organic food to the mass market for the first time. Also in June 2000 they merged with Booker plc, Britain's largest cash and carry group supplying over 100,000 independent retailers and more than 300,000 catering outlets. It is now Iceland Group Plc.

Iceland Group Plc has a chain of 760 stores and employs over 20,000 people. Its 1999 sales were over 1.9 billion (but expected to increase to 5.5 billion following the merger with Booker plc.) with a market capitalisation of 648 million.



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