UK frozen food retailer Iceland Foods has indicated it could build a network of over 50 outlets in Ireland.

Iceland has acquired its seven existing stores in Ireland from franchisee partner AIM Group for an undisclosed sum.

The company had operated its own stores in the country but moved to a franchise operation after CEO Malcolm Walker returned to the business in 2005 and sought to focus on revitalising its business in the UK.

A spokesperson for Iceland said it now trades “very successfully” in Ireland.

“We are confident of our ability to compete effectively in the Republic as we do throughout the UK. In due course we see the potential for 50-plus Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland,” the spokesperson told just-food.

The seven Iceland stores it has taken on are located at Ballyfermot, Finglas, Navan Road, Ilac Centre, Coolock, Clonmel and Carlow.

“We see great opportunities for growth in Ireland and taking direct control of these stores will help us to ensure that we offer the best value and the highest standards of service to our valued Irish customers,” Walker said. “It will also help us to accelerate the expansion of the business, creating new Irish jobs, more opportunities for Irish suppliers and making our unique branded products available to more people throughout the country.”

In September last year, Iceland appointed ex-Aldi senior executive Paul Foley as international business director in a bid to drive growth overseas. He was tasked with identifying and exploiting new opportunities to expand the Iceland brand globally.

Iceland faces competition in Ireland from the likes of discount retailers Aldi and LIDL , which account for 7.4% and 7.5%, respectively.