UK frozen-food retailer Iceland Foods today (7 June) reported a 19% rise in annual profits after the opening of over 50 stores on former Woolworths Group sites drove sales.

The company booked a 19.4% rise in net profit before tax to GBP135.4m (US$196.3m) in the year to 26 March.

The jump in profits came on the back of a 10.4% increase in turnover to GBP2.26bn.

Revenues were driven by the opening of 74 stores during the year, including 51 outlets on former Woolworths sites after the retailer went out of business in early 2009.

Nevertheless, Iceland saw like-for-like sales rise 4.3% even as the major UK chains stepped up their promotions and competitive activity.

"The key to our success remains simple: offering customers the best everyday value
in frozen foods and for their daily purchases of grocery and chilled foods," Said chief executive Malcolm Walker. 

"Our range of frozen food remains unsurpassed in value, quality growth and innovation, and customers continue to appreciate the clarity of our round sum pricing policy – an Iceland innovation so successful that it has now been copied by many other food retailers."

Walker admitted the UK market had become more competitive but listed attributes Iceland had to thrive.

"The UK food retailing market has undoubtedly changed over the last year, with competition becoming more aggressive than ever," Walker said.

"Nevertheless, I am confident that our proven business model, strong finances, excellent products, outstanding service, loyal customers and committed staff will enable us to make progress in this challenging environment."