Best Served Cold (Paperback)
The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Malcolm Walker - CEO of Iceland Foods
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Malcolm Walker was born in Yorkshire in 1946 and opened the first Iceland frozen food shop in 1970. Iceland became a public company in 1984, and had sales of £2 billion through 760 stores by 1999.
In 2000 Iceland merged with the Booker cash and carry business. Walker announced he would retire and sold half his Iceland shares. However, Iceland’s new management then slashed profit expectations. Walker was fired and spent three years under official investigation before being cleared of any wrongdoing.
In Walker’s absence, Iceland’s sales collapsed – and in 2005 he returned as its boss. His amazing revival has seen like-for-like sales grow by more than 50 per cent and Iceland win the accolade of Best Big Company to Work For in the UK. In 2012 Walker led a £1.5bn management buyout of the company and is now personally worth over £200m.
Walker’s life story is as dramatic as any you will find in business, and serves as a model for how hard work and intelligent risk-taking can build a national enterprise and a household name known to millions.
A genius for retail we can all learn from.
A few years ago Malcolm sent me an early draft of his then unfinished book, which I read whilst on Necker. It was a real page turner and I called him immediately to tell him how much I enjoyed it. I feel that we have much in common in our unconventional management styles, which have helped us overcome adversity and have fun along the way. Having lost his job at the company he founded, Malcolm's comeback has been remarkable. Now I see how the story ends it should be compulsory reading and a real inspiration for all budding entrepreneurs.
[Walker's] drive, tenacity and knowledge of his business remained with him throughout his turbulent period away from Iceland, and I was not remotely surprised by his great comeback. His story demonstrates that, regardless of any setback, if you know your business, care about your business and wake up every morning loving what you do, you have a great chance of making it a success. Well done, Malcolm.
Having competed with Iceland, and therefore Malcolm, throughout my retail career, the insight this book provides into what makes him tick would have been invaluable to me, had it been published 20 years ago! A great comeback story written by one of the true characters of recent retail history.