Our History of Doing It Right

We are the UK’s specialists in frozen food, focused on providing quality, affordable food for families.

With 30,000 colleagues embedded in communities the length and breadth of the UK, we have been committed to the British high street for more than 50 years. More than 70% of our store colleagues live within three miles of work and keep us in touch with what really matters to their local communities.

The fact that we are family founded, owned and run means we invest for the long-term. Our colleagues, supported by 1,000 Talking Shop representatives – one in every store, help drive our Doing it Right strategy and we work hand-in-hand with our suppliers on innovation to drive positive change.

Through the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, we aim to use the power of strategic philanthropy to make life better for everyone.

Where it all started

Iceland was founded by Malcolm Walker in November
1970 with a single small shop in Oswestry, Shropshire,
selling loose frozen food.

On a visit to the USA in the 1970s, Malcolm was impressed
by Marriott Hotels’ reputation for great customer service and the slogan emblazoned on their matchbooks: We do it right. Doing it Right became Iceland’s watchword as it took a UK lead in removing artificial colours, flavours and preservatives from its own label food in the 1980s, and a global lead in banning GM ingredients and taking action against environmentally damaging refrigerants in the 1990s.

What it means today

Doing it Right now means taking on the world’s biggest environmental and social challenges, led by Executive Chairman Richard Walker, son of Iceland’s founder Sir Malcolm.

Our private ownership allows us to take a long-term view and gives us the agility to lead disruptive action where it is needed, and to collaborate with sometimes unlikely partners.

Our Doing it Right plan is inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a focus for businesses to contribute to a better future for everyone. They are a ‘to do’ list for all of us, to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change in the run-up to 2030.

We support all 17 of the sustainable development goals but we have a particular focus on the six below.

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

We follow 10 Doing it Right principles that shape the way we work


Never underestimate what a business can achieve, if it cares enough.


Be curious. Don’t just listen to corporate groupthink or get stuck in echo chambers. Get out and see issues for yourself. Talk to real people and work with them to find solutions.


Play to your strengths. Ask where you can make the greatest difference.


Be a player not a commentator.


Be courageous and don’t fear failure. If you act ethically and do the right thing, people will root for you. If you challenge powerful lobbies, they will bite back.


Welcome collaboration. Some of the most effective results come from unlikely partnerships.


Make it personal. Take it from the boardroom to the shop floor, the community group and the school assembly.


Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, but always be progressive.


Focus on the endgame. Stick with your vision however bumpy the journey may be.


Share progress and
Be transparent on the scale of the challenge and what is being done to meet it.

You can find out more about Iceland’s approach and experience of Doing it Right in Richard Walker’s book, The Green Grocer.