Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2022

Iceland founder ‘no plans to sell business’ as hedge funds eye supermarket

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 21st, 2022

The founder of Iceland Foods has vowed to retain control as hedge funds buy up the Deeside-based supermarket chains debt.

Sir Malcolm Walker has said he has no plans to sell the business despite claims that he had begun “sounding out parties” potentially interested in acquiring the business according to a report by the Daily Telegraph.

Walker has however said he’s rejected “frequent approaches” from those looking to acquire the frozen foods specialist.

Investors are said to have bought the supermarket’s debt for as little as 67p in the pound earlier this year.

Sir Malcolm, 76, was responding to claims he had begun “quietly marketing” Iceland, “which is facing the prospect of a showdown with opportunistic debt investors.” The Daily Telegraph report states.

It goes on to say that Iceland, which is facing a £750 million debts bill, trade credit insurers including Allianz and Atradius have cut their exposure to the supermarket.

Sir Malcolm and co-owner Tarsem Dhaliwal insisted that Iceland Foods is “trading incredibly well”.

They said: “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. Our sons, Richard Walker and Paul Dhaliwal, hold executive positions and will take over from us in the future. We have no plans to sell the business, despite frequent approaches.”

They continued: “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.

“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 is Britain’s ninth biggest grocer and has 2.3pc of the market, according to analysis by consultancy Kantar.

Iceland’s parent company posted a £41m pre-tax loss on £3.7bn of turnover, according to its most recently filed accounts for the year to Mar 25, 2022.

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