Iceland Foods has acquired the seven Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland previously operated by its franchisee AIM Group for an undisclosed sum.

The move marks a return to company-owned stores in the country for the first time since 2005.

Iceland chairman and chief executive Walker said the return would help the retailer to work with Irish suppliers to create unique own brand products.

He said: “We see great opportunities for growth in Ireland and taking direct control of these stores will help us to ensure that we offer the best value and the highest standards of service to our valued Irish customers.

“Iceland has operated its own stores in the Republic in the past, but we withdrew because we urgently needed to simplify the severely troubled business to which I and my colleagues returned in 2005.”

He added: “Now is the right time for us to return, as part of our international growth strategy that aims to make Iceland the world’s number one frozen food brand.”

The seven Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland are located at Ballyfermot, Finglas, Navan Road, Ilac Centre, Coolock, Clonmel and Carlow.

All staff in the stores have been offered the opportunity to transfer to Iceland.

Iceland’s international strategy is led by former Aldi UK boss Paul Foley who returned to Iceland earlier this year. Walker’s son Richard Walker is chief operating officer of its international division.