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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 09:28 GMT
Frozen food store founder returns
Iceland founder Malcolm Walker back as chief executive
Malcolm Walker back in harness after four years
The founder of the Iceland chain of supermarkets has returned as chief executive, four years after he left the north Wales-based company.

Malcolm Walker resigned from Iceland after sales dipped, but rejoined on Friday as part of a consortium which bought the company.

The consortium, led by Icelandic-based group Baugur, acquired the Big Food Group, for 326m in December 2004.

But retail expert Bryan Roberts said Big Food Group faced an uncertain time.

The Iceland chain was born after Mr Walker invested 30 in a shop in Oswestry in 1970.

Everyone is hoping that Malcolm Walker's return will raise morale and improve performance
Analyst Bryan Roberts
He built the chain into a multi-billion-pound business but resigned in January 2001 amid falling profits.

Baugur hopes it will revive the fortunes of the Big Food Group, which also runs the Booker cash-and carry outlets, and Woodward Foodservice.

However, Mr Roberts, of the retail news and analysis group Planet Retail, said Baugur's recent 1bn takeover approach for another supermarket chain, Somerfield, was a "potential spanner thrown into the works".

Mr Roberts said there could be a "significant number of store closures" as a result, although it was not clear what would happen.

There are more than 750 Iceland stores with more than 20,000 staff around the UK.

Mr Roberts told BBC Radio Wales that Mr Walker started Iceland from scratch and knew the retail business inside out.

"Everyone is hoping that Malcolm Walker's return will raise morale and improve performance," he said.

"He's probably one of the best people in the country to take the reins and take the business forward."

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