Iceland boss Richard Walker has launched a bid to stand for Parliament at the next general election, Retail Week can reveal.

Richard Walker

Richard Walker called Liz Truss’ priorities ‘odd’ at the Conservative party conference

Walker has been named on the Conservatives’ approved list of parliamentary candidates – a pool that political parties put together during the early stages of each electoral cycle.    

Sources said there were hundreds of names on the list and that there was therefore no guarantee that Walker would be selected to stand for a seat. 

Walker has emerged as one of retail’s most outspoken leaders on political, social and economic issues since becoming managing director of Iceland in 2018. 

He voted to leave the European Union in 2016 but was critical of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s approach to business post-Brexit – including the government’s failure to heed warnings about labour shortages that were sparked by the UK’s exit from the EU.

In February, Walker joined the government’s business council. He said at the time he was “honoured to be selected” and stated his desire to “support the government in its ambitions to bolster our economy while levelling up”.

Earlier this month, Walker spoke at the Conservatives’ party conference, where he urged the government to increase Universal Credit to £20 a week.

Retail Week has contacted Walker but he declined to comment. 

Walker must now overcome a series of further stages if he is to be selected to represent the party at the next election.  

Candidates must apply to be put on a shortlist for a seat and wait to see if any become available by the time of the next vote.  

Tory hopefuls must also fill in an application form – including details about their lives and political experience – and provide three references. 

Candidates that pass this stage will then be asked to attend a parliamentary assessment board – the final step of a stringent selection process. 

Walker is the latest in a string of retailers to turn their hand to politics.

Marks & Spencer chair Archie Norman was elected as Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells in 1997, a constituency he served until May 2005. 

Next boss Simon Wolfson, Asda chair Stuart Rose and former Waitrose managing director Mark Price are all members of the House of Lords, while ex-John Lewis supremo Andy Street has been the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands since 2017.

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe was appointed a life peer in 2013, the same year she stepped down from the board of Tesco. Two other Tesco alumni, Amy Gray, the grocer’s former government relations manager, and Ed Young, ex-communications director, stood for the Tory party in Hackney and York Central respectively in 2017.