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Retailer Food Warehouse opens first of up to 12 'bulk buy' stores in Northern Ireland

Sister company of Iceland launches in Newtownabbey


Richard Walker

Richard Walker

Food Warehouse will soon open an outlet in Londonderry

Food Warehouse will soon open an outlet in Londonderry


Richard Walker

The company behind frozen food supermarket Iceland today opens the first of up to 12 new Food Warehouse stores for Northern Ireland.

Food Warehouse is opening its doors in Longwood Retail Park in Newtownabbey in a £1m investment creating 30 jobs.

It will occupy a 15,000 sq ft building, which Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods Group, said is three times the size of a typical Iceland outlet.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said Food Warehouse offers a larger range than its sister brand. He said: "The range is wider and then we have more premium products, bigger pack sizes, a premium fish range so it's a real expanded offering on ambient, frozen and grocery foods."

Food Warehouse, which specialises in bulk-buys, sets up in out-of-town locations, unlike Iceland, Mr Walker said.

Newtownabbey is the group's 121st store in six years of business. He said the average Food Warehouse spend is greater than in Iceland.

"Traditionally Iceland is on the high street and has limited parking and represents a top-up shop for many but the Food Warehouse comes with a lot of free parking and the basket spend is double."

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Mr Walker said the company was opening new stores at a rapid pace.

"It's all about value and that's what we offer - the larger packs, efficiencies in store, it's easier to operate and we can drive down prices plus the customers are responding really well so we are getting good growth."

He said the chain is a response to a changing retail sector. "It's incredibly important to innovate and understand what their customers want, which is how The Food Warehouse came to be.

"As the future of the high street remains uncertain and more and more bricks-and-mortar stores lie empty, there's a responsibility to the government, but also retailer, to rethink how they operate in the increasingly competitive grocery retail sector.

"We're really taking our growth seriously," he added. "And we have a lot of confidence in the Northern Ireland marketplace. We are already in talks about other sites there and this will allow us to re-engage with our suppliers too.

"We're proud to support those across Northern Ireland."

Mr Walker said a store in Londonderry would be the next opening for the chain here.

"Since the first door opened back in 2014, The Food Warehouse has grown from strength to strength, exceeding our expectations.

"Moving into Northern Ireland is a huge landmark for the business, as it continues to perform extremely well.

"Newtownabbey was our first deal in terms of negotiations with landlords. It's a great retail park and ticks all the boxes. We would hope to open 11 or 12 more in Northern Ireland."