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Iceland in 'deep s***' says company supremo Malcolm Walker

But boss of supermarket chain vows it will bounce back from challenge from German discounters Aldi and Lidl

Iceland boss Malcolm Walker

The chief executive of Deeside-based supermarket firm Iceland has said his company is in “deep s***” but vowed they will be re-born and come back stronger.

Malcolm Walker, who lives in Broxton, said pressure from German discounters Aldi and Lidl has meant the last two years had been “so tough” and that profits were down.

But in a speech to business and charity leaders at an award event organised by Business Supporting Communities (B2C) he said he was excited at the challenge and that they would fight back.

He said six trial Food Warehouse stores - which stock luxury foods alongside the usual lower priced goods - were already “going like a train”.

Mr Walker said: “The last two, three years have been so tough and our profits are down, so we are in deep s***.

“We are at that point again when it is going to be re-birth.

“Can we do it? Well we have done it twice, three times before so of course we are going to do it.

“What happens when you get to this point is the excitement comes back into the business and it really is exciting, it is refreshing, there is a big challenge in front of us.

“We have a new concept store that we have opened very recently and we now have six, the Food Warehouse, they are bigger than Iceland(stores) and there are much more luxury products, and they are going like a train.

“We have six, trouble is we have 850 of the other ones to sort out but I am sure we will.”

Iceland employs around 500 people at its Deeside headquarters and 25,000 in stores across the UK.

He joked that shoppers should back his "English" firm ahead of German rivals.

The firm launched its latest concept store Food Warehouse in Wrexham and five other towns last year to take on its rivals - selling Champagne and lobster alongside its usual budget buys.

The idea is to increase the selection from Iceland stores with more choice for shoppers and the chance to buy some items in bulk.

In an interview last year with the Chronicle's sister paper, the Daily Post, Iceland boss Malcolm Walker said he intended to look at a new format which would be “bigger, (bigger stores), and a wider product range”.

Credit ratings agency Moody’s this month said that they expected the competitive pressures on Iceland to persist.

But it added it expected Iceland will stem the decline in LfL(like for like) sales and margins over the next 12 months, and that industry conditions will not materially deteriorate further. Moody’s also expects that the company will continue to pursue its organic growth strategy.

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