Iceland Foods founder denies retail business is for sale

Sir Malcolm Walker

Iceland Foods founder, Sir Malcolm Walker, says the Deeside-based retailer is trading “incredibly well” amid reports that the business could be a takeover target.

Sir Malcolm denied that he has been “quietly marketing” the business.

He told The Times that he has rejected “frequent” approaches from potential buyers.

Interest in the company is reportedly rife among opportunistic debt investors, who are believed to have bought Iceland’s debt for 67p in the pound earlier this year.

The group currently has £750m in debt.

The Times also claimed that trade credit insurers, such as Allianz and Atradius, have cut their exposure to the supermarket.

Sir Malcolm responded: “In the current climate, customers have never needed affordable quality frozen food more.

“Iceland Foods is 52 years old this week and is a privately owned multi-generational family business. We have no plans to sell the business, despite frequent approaches.

“Our 2025 bonds are trading in the mid-80s, which is positive given the current economic climate.

“The maturity is over two years away, we are paying a very low fixed interest rate, and when the time comes, we are supremely confident of our refinancing plans.”

He added: “Only a very small proportion of our suppliers have credit insurance. Credit insurers regularly review cover upwards and downwards for all retailers in the UK; therefore, this is ‘business as usual’ for us.

“We have a collaborative and effective working relationship with all of our suppliers, and they have reported no issues to us to date.”

Iceland has more than 1,000 stores and employs 30,000 staff.

In August the group published its annual results for the year to March 25, 2022, which revealed turnover of £3.555bn, down from £3.715bn the year before, and a pre-tax loss of £4.1m, in stark contrast to the £73m pre-tax profit the year before.