23 January 2001
Iceland boss may face share inquiry

By FWi staff

THE Financial Services Authority may investigate the 13.5 million share sale by Iceland chairman Malcolm Walker, reports The Daily Telegraph.

This comes after the group issued a share warning, only five weeks after Mr Walker, Iceland founder and executive chairman, sold most of his holdings.

Shares in Iceland slipped 40.5p to 218p after the frozen-food supermarket group issued a statement explaining an earlier slump.

Mr Walker sold 4m shares at 339p, just short of the groups five-year high.

Furious analysts claim that an upbeat appraisal they received from the group before Christmas was at odds with the true situation.

Mondays statement revealed that sales in food stores had dropped 1.5% in the second half of 2000, and 5.5% over the festive period.

Iceland blamed the slump on the failure of its bold switch to a wide range of organic lines last year.

In The Times columnist Patience Wheatcroft says consumers prepared to pay the premium for organic are unlikely to frequent budget stores such as Iceland.

They would rather browse around “a more congenial store than Iceland, tossing some fresh venison and a bottle of Chablis into the basket alongside the organic aubergines,” she claims.