FROZEN food chain Iceland has unveiled record profits, but admitted a flurry of money-off vouchers from supermarket rivals was impacting trade.
Profits at the Deeside firm rose 18.5 per cent to £184.3 million for the year to March 30 after like-for-like sales lifted six per cent in a “highly competitive” marketplace.
Founder Malcolm Walker, who recently bought back the company in a £1.5 billion deal, said underlying sales had been “pretty flat” since the year end as supermarkets stepped up their promotions by offering money off vouchers to attract cash-strapped shoppers in recent months.
Iceland’s profits rise represents its seventh set of record results in a row since Mr Walker returned to the business he founded in 1970.
In a swipe at his major rivals, Mr Walker said it was achieved “not by chasing short-term profit targets, but by resolutely doing the right things for our staff and customers for the longer term”.
Iceland said the launch of 230 products under its own brand helped sales during the year, while it also opened another 21 stores – 16 under the Iceland fascia and five under Cooltrader.
It now has 814 stores across the UK and employs 24,000 staff, with its headquarters based at Deeside Industrial Park.
Mr Walker led the management buyout in March, which saw him and other senior managers own 43 per cent of the business after joining forces with other investors, including DFS sofa chain founder Lord Kirkham.
They bought the business from creditors to Icelandic bank Landsbanki, the collapsed bank that took control of the chain in 2008.
It represented a remarkable comeback for Mr Walker, who lost his job at the company in 2001 but was brought back in 2005 to revive its fortunes.
Sales have grown every year since his return, with trade booming since the economic downturn as sales of frozen food grew because consumers consider it to be good value for money.