Iceland is one of the fastest growing food retail chains in Britain, and they currently have more than 830 stores around the UK. While the company is doing well today and is quite successful, they started relatively small, and they"ve had a number of setbacks, along with triumphs over the years.
Iceland started far smaller than most might imagine. In 1970 Malcolm Walker and a friend decided that they would open up a shop and start selling, feeling that it would be easy to make money. They raised enough money to pay for a single month"s rent in Oswenstry, Shropshire.
The company got its name because they specialized in selling loose frozen food items. The business turned out to do a bit better than they had thought, and they were able to continue selling for far more than that single month. At that point, they still had their day jobs, just to make sure they could make ends meet. However, both were fired from Woolworths a year later. This allowed them to spend their time focusing on making the store better and actually expanding. By 1975, they had 15 stores in the North West and North Wales. They soon began making their own branded products, and they continued to open new stores so that by 1980, they had 37 of them.
Iceland kept on growing and expanding. They had 81 stores by 1984 and that was when they went public with the company. Going public turned out to be quite successful for the company. In 1986, they were the first supermarket in the country to remove artificial color, flavor, and non-essential preservatives from their own store-branded items. They also banned MSG from their brand products. Over the years, they also started buying up many of their competitors. They were even able to acquire their largest rival, Bejam, in 1989. This ended up giving them 465 stores in total.
Iceland continued to set themselves apart from other grocery chains. Not only were they steadily adding more stores, they were constantly adding ways to make their branded products healthier and better for their customers as well. They banned mechanical recovery meat from their products, and they created a label for products free of GM ingredients. They wanted their customers to be able to trust the food they were buying from the company, and that was a way they branded that line. They used the slogan "Food You Can Trust".
The company did have a number of financial problems that started in the early 2000s, even to the point where some of the earliest members of the company, including Malcolm Walker, were forced to leave. The management at the company was struggling. Customers were leaving and the costs of running the business was growing. Up until 2005, things looked grim for the company. At that point, they accepted an offer from investors and turned it into a private company again. The investment group split the companies and put Iceland back under the management of Walker and the other managers who had been ousted years earlier.
The company was still in trouble, but the return of management who knew what they were doing and who had led the company to profits before helped to turn Iceland around. Over the past several years, they"ve made great strides into climbing back to the top of the ladder. They were making big profits again, opening more stores, and adding even more jobs. They have made a very positive turnaround in that time and they appear to be on the cusp of getting even larger in the years to come.
It is easy to see why people want this brand to succeed. They"ve always been a company that has been about giving the customers the best possible experience. This includes creating healthier foods and putting the customer"s health and happiness first. Customers see this, and they develop a brand loyalty. The hiccups the company had in the early 2000s, due to bad management coming aboard, were an anomaly, and more customers know that. They are happy to have seen the return of Iceland to glory.