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Iceland Foods - Chairman of the Year

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Company: Iceland Foods, Deeside, Flintshire, Wales
Company Description: Iceland Foods is a unique food retailer with over 900 stores throughout the UK, a further 40 owned or franchised stores across Europe, and a global export business.
Nomination Category: Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Chairman of the Year

Nomination Title: Malcolm Walker CBE, Executive Chairman

Tell the story about what this nominated chairman has achieved since 1 January 2017 (up to 650 words). Describe the impact he or she has had on your organization. Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Malcolm Walker is the founder and chairman of Iceland Foods.

He began work as a trainee manager at Woolworths. Iceland was founded as a sideline in 1970 with a single small shop selling loose frozen food.

His sideline prompted his dismissal by Woolworths in 1971, but that provided the catalyst for a rapid expansion of Iceland into a national chain which by 2000 had £2 billion of sales, 22,000 employees and over 700 stores. In 2000, Iceland merged with Booker, and Walker stepped down as CEO in 2001. Iceland, renamed The Big Food Group, floundered under its new management for four years, losing focus, sales, and market share .

The Big Food Group was rescued in 2005 when Malcolm returned as CEO and a member of the consortium that took the company private.

The morale and performance of the business were quickly transformed to make Iceland once again one of the most remarkable success stories in UK food retailing. Walker also transformed pay and conditions to make Iceland’s front line retail staff among the best paid on the high street, reflected in the annual Sunday Times Best Companies survey.

In March 2012 Malcolm led a successful management buyout of Iceland. Now Iceland is co-owned by its management shareholders and the investment company Brait SE.

Under Malcolm’s leadership, Iceland launched a wide range of successful initiatives in the last two years, including many new product launches, the development and roll-out of The Food Warehouse store chain, major investments including the construction of a new £2 million development kitchen, and the launch of a new Iceland store format.

An innovator , Walker took artificial colorings out of its food 19 years before Marks & Spencer and in the past year, continued leading the industry with more firsts: with pledges to eliminate plastic packaging and palm oil from Iceland’s products.

Despite research that says frozen foods retain nutritional value better than some fresh foods, Walker is aware there is a ‘frozen foods’ stigma. “A third of the population loves us, a third are ambivalent and a third would never come into an Iceland.” 'A lot of folk won't be seen dead going into an Iceland, but if we can get them in, then that's it.'

To achieve 'middle-class acceptability', Iceland recently has a launched a new concept store with upscale amenities and design. Iceland is also listening to changing consumer tastes and has developed new lines of Luxury and Vegan dishes. Walker also recruited a top wine buyer and a Michelin started chef.

All this comes a few years after the launch of Food Warehouse, combining the convenience of bulk buying with food deals across more than 3000 product lines. There are now over 60 Food Warehouse stores.

Malcolm is proud of Iceland’s exceptional record of raising more than £20 million for good causes over the last decade. He played the leading role in forming the UCL Retail Partnership, a unique coalition of nine retailers pledged to donate some or all of their revenues from the sale of single-use carrier bags to Alzheimer’s Research.

Malcolm Walker has overseen over 30 years of continuous sales growth at Iceland Foods. Iceland today has annual sales of more than £2.8 billion and over 900 company-owned stores in the UK, Ireland and Czech Republic, together with franchised stores in overseas territories including Spain, Portugal, the Channel Islands, Iceland and Norway. Iceland also exports its own brand products to more than 40 countries around the world, and has a successful ecommerce website and delivery program.

Malcolm was awarded the CBE in 1995 and his appointment as a Knight Bachelor was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2017. His autobiography, Best Served Cold, was published in 2013, with all proceeds donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

With no plans to retire, Sir Malcolm Walker will continue to lead Iceland Foods to continued growth.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated chairman since the beginning of 2017.

-Malcolm Walker is the founder and chairman of Iceland Foods.
-Walker transformed pay and conditions to make Iceland’s front line retail staff among the best paid on the high street
-Under Malcolm’s leadership, Iceland launched a wide range of successful initiatives in the last two years, including many new product launches, the development and roll-out of The Food Warehouse store chain, major investments including the construction of a new £2 million development kitchen, and the launch of a new Iceland store format.
-Iceland is also listening to changing consumer tastes and has developed new lines of Luxury and Vegan dishes. Walker also recruited a top wine buyer and a Michelin started chef.
-Raising more than £20 million for good causes over the last decade for Demetia
-Malcolm was awarded the CBE in 1995 and his appointment as a Knight Bachelor was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2017