The international business director at frozen foods group Iceland Foods has told Retail Intelligence that the retailer plans to open as many as 50 stores in the Republic over the next few years, and use Ireland as a springboard for further international expansion.
"We'd like to hit 50 stores as soon as possible," Foley told RI. "We're one week into the process now. I can't tell whether it is going to take two years, three years or five years to get there, we just want to do it as quickly as possible."
Last week, Iceland announced that it had re-acquired the seven stores it operates in the Republic from franchise operator AIM Group. The stores are located in Ballyfermot, Finglas, Navan Road, Ilac Centre, Coolock, Clonmel and Carlow.
Foley, a former MD of Aldi UK & Ireland, said that it is important that the Irish arm of the Iceland business is operated separately to that of its UK operation. "This is Iceland Ireland, this is not an extension of Iceland UK," he said. "It's a separate company, and it needs an approach to match that."
Last Spring, Iceland hit headlines in Ireland for the wrong reasons, after chief executive Malcolm Walker made a controversial comment about 'the Irish' in a televised discussion on the horse meat scandal. When asked about claims by the FSAI that there was 0.1% horse meat in Iceland burgers, Walker said: "Well, that's the Irish, isn't it?"
On the potential damage this has done to Iceland's reputation here, Foley told RI: "The incident you were referring to - I wish that it hadn't happened, and there have been a lot of apologies resulting from that. But I think the consumer is fairly straightforward, if you offer them a good offering at a good price, you will get the reputation you deserve."
© 2013 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones