The grocer’s founder and chief executive Malcolm Walker said he’d “like to pick up a few crumbs” when the sale of Somerfield to the Co-operative Group is completed.
Last year, Iceland opened 10 stores and Walker wants to top that this year. “It’s difficult finding stores, so if we can buy a batch of between 20 and 30 of the Somerfield shops then we’d definitely look at that,” he said.
Walker added that he was confident of further expansion despite the economic climate, because the grocer has seen sales “rocket” over the past three years.
For the full year to March 28, Iceland delivered EBITDA of£130 million, up from£90 million the previous year.
“We’re flying at the moment and if you add the economic climate to the fact that we’re doing well, then over the next few months we should do even better than we first thought,” he said.
Walker added that he did not want to get involved in the price wars dominating the supermarket sector, because Iceland offers shoppers good value already.
This week, Tesco reduced the price of 3,000 items by up to 50 per cent and Asda started selling 10 staple items, including bread, eggs and butter, for just 50p. This follows Morrisons’ price cuts on 2,000 items last month.
Walker said: “They can slug it out between themselves. We’re as cheap as chips anyway.”
He also said that Iceland’s owner Baugur is not considering selling off the grocer, in the same way it sold catering supplier Woodward earlier this week. “We’re its star performer – why would it want to sell us?” he said.
The Co-op could be forced by the Office of Fair Trading to offload up to 200 Somerfield stores out of the 900-strong chain when the deal is signed. It is not yet clear when the deal will be completed, although some have said it could be just a matter of weeks.