The Huddersfield-man who pioneered the frozen food supermarket chain Iceland will receive an honorary doctorate from his hometown University.
Malcolm Walker will receive the award of Honorary Doctorate of the University of Huddersfield for his “outstanding contribution to world of commerce and entrepreneurship, and for his philanthropic work” and will collect his award at the University’s July Awards Ceremonies.
Malcolm Walker was born in Yorkshire in 1946 and grew up in Grange Moor, Huddersfield. He began his entrepreneurial career as a dance promoter while still at school, which he left to enter retailing as a trainee manager with Woolworths in Huddersfield. He founded Iceland as a sideline in 1970, opening a single small shop in Oswestry with a starting capital of just £30. Malcolm was Chairman and CEO of Iceland through 30 years of continuous sales growth, in all but one of which the company also increased its profits.
Malcolm left Iceland in 2001, but returned as CEO in February 2005. Over the next seven years, he achieved a transformation in performance and morale, with like-for-like sales increasing by more than 50%. Iceland today has sales of over £2.7 billion, more than 850 stores and 25,000 employees, who have twice voted it the Best Big Company to Work For in the UK, in 2012 and 2014.
Since leading a £1.5 billion management buyout in 2012, Malcolm has significantly accelerated Iceland’s store opening programme in the UK, developed a new Iceland retail business in the Czech Republic, acquired the formerly franchised Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland and substantially expanded the Iceland brand in new export markets.
Iceland’s Charitable Foundation has raised more than £11 million for good causes including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Help for Heroes, Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Royal British Legion. Malcolm’s own fundraising initiatives have included participation in the Iceland Everest Expedition of 2011, the Descent of the Shard abseil in 2012 and the Iceland Antarctic Expedition later that year.
Malcolm has many other business interests ranging from food manufacturing to restaurants and property and his autobiography, Best Served Cold, was published in 2013.