Iceland scraps picking trial for home shopping

Iceland, the supermarket chain owned by Big Food Group, has abandoned its trial picking centre model for fulfilment of home shopping orders and returned to a store-based approach.

Over the past 18 months, Iceland has tested product picking from Booker depots in Sunbury, and subsequently Chester and Kingswinsford.

The aim was to offer shoppers an enhanced range not available in Iceland stores. But the frozen food specialist has decided to return to the store picking model that it originally started with.

A spokesman said: 'The picking centre model was just a trial. A lot of retailers have gone down this road and it doesn't work for everyone. We were right to explore it, but now we are rolling out convenience stores that have more lines (than traditional Iceland stores).'

Numis retail analyst Mark Hughes said: 'A picking centre providing a full offer, including the Booker products, was considered to be the way forward. But this concept struggled immediately and, despite making changes, the company did not get the cost per order low enough, so the pick centre model would not work.'

Hughes also said that Big Food Group may be the next retailer to be targeted with a merger or takeover bid. Such a move would be more likely to come from a private or financial buyer, which could break up the business and sell groups of stores, rather than a trade buyer acquiring the lot.

Icelandic group Baugur holds a stake in Big Food Group.