Posted: Sun 4th Dec 2016

Iceland v Iceland ~ No thaw in frosty relations as Deeside company claims country’s ministers aren’t telling the truth

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Dec 4th, 2016

The Icelandic Government is set to press ahead with legal action following a breakdown of talks with Deeside based Iceland Foods on Friday

Representatives from Iceland foods flew to Reykjavik on Friday in an effort to to resolve the dispute.

However, the war of words has escalated in the trademark row with the country’s Foreign Ministry who issued a statement saying the food company’s stance ‘defies logic and is untenable.’

Iceland food responded today with claims Ministers are not telling the truth and are “not willing to hold any serious discussion” on the trademark dispute.

Following Friday’s meeting the Icelandic Government said:

‘At the meeting Iceland Foods stated that it refused to relinquish exclusive control of the word “Iceland” and presented proposals that fell short of Iceland’s expectations. Legal action to invalidate the exclusive registration of the wordmark ‘Iceland’ held by Iceland Foods at the EUIPO that started in November will proceed.’

‘The registration of a country name that enjoys highly positive national branding to a private company defies logic and is untenable.’

[miptheme_quote author=”Malcolm Walker Iceland Foods CEO” style=”boxquote text-left”]I once again urge the Government and people of Iceland to talk to us to achieve the sensible coexistence agreement which I am sure is well within reach and very much in the best interests of all parties and their stakeholders.[/miptheme_quote]

The supermarket giant responded today with claims that Ministers from the Nordic county are not telling the truth in the row, the company said, “The one absolute certainty about legal action is that it will take up a great deal of time and cost a large amount of money, and that ultimately the only real beneficiaries will be lawyers.

Iceland Founder & CEO Malcolm Walker said: 

“We very much regret that the Icelandic Government was not willing to hold any serious discussion with us on ways in which we might co-operate to our mutual benefit.

“While we have no wish to engage in a public argument with our friends in Iceland (the country), it is important for people to understand that a number of their comments on this issue are factually incorrect.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In particular, their claim in a statement of 24 November that ‘Over the past years Iceland has made multiple efforts to negotiate with Iceland Foods with the hope of reaching a fair solution and avoiding legal action.

These conciliatory efforts have unfortunately been met with unrealistic and unacceptable demands by the supermarket chain leaving Iceland with no choice but to proceed with a legal resolution to the situation.’

“Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they have made no direct approach to us whatsoever about trademark issues since 2012, which is why we sent a small delegation to Reykjavik on Friday to try to achieve a resolution. This got nowhere because it rapidly became clear that the Icelandic authorities have no interest in reaching a compromise.

Nonsensical.

“We have no real idea why this has suddenly become such a major problem for Iceland (the country). Iceland Foods had Icelandic majority shareholders and Icelandic representatives on its board for seven years to 2012. At no point in all those years did any representative of Iceland (the country) raise the slightest concern about our company’s branding.

“Recent claims that we have sought to prevent Iceland using the name ‘Iceland’ to promote tourism to the country are simply nonsensical.

All we have ever sought to do – and will continue to do – is to prevent other food and retail companies from representing themselves as ‘Iceland’ in ways that could cause confusion with our brand.”

Iceland Foods was founded with the opening of a single shop in Oswestry, Shropshire, in November 1970.

The name “Iceland” was suggested by the founder Malcolm Walker’s wife Rhianydd.

Originally co-owned by its two founders, Iceland Foods acquired external shareholders to fund its expansion and then became a UK public company through a successful flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 1984.

Iceland Foods (latterly renamed The Big Food Group) remained a quoted company until it was acquired by Icelandic investors, led by Baugur, in February 2005

After Baugur entered administration in February 2009, a 77% shareholding in Iceland Foods passed to the Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Glitnir, which also became insolvent.

The resolution committees of the failed banks sold their holdings in Iceland Foods in a £1.5bn management buyout in March 2012. Iceland Foods is now co-owned by its executive directors and the investment company Brait.

Iceland Foods operates almost 900 company-owned stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic and Iceland (the country).

The company owns three stores in Reykjavik and sell Iceland branded food through 10 to 11 convenience stores throughout Iceland (the country).

They also sell through franchised Iceland stores in territories including Spain, Portugal, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and have a global export business supplying Iceland branded products to more than 30 countries throughout the world.

Iceland Foods employ 23,000 people directly and as many again in supply industries.

Thier turnover is £2.7 billion per year and have more than five million customers per week through it’s doors

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