Iceland-owned frozen food chain Cooltrader has revealed plans to open stores in north London as part of a major expansion for the retailer in the south of England.
Currently, the chain's southernmost store is in Northampton - with most of its outlets concentrated in Wales, the Midlands and north west England - but that is set to change from early next year.
Andy Pritchard, Iceland MD and director and chairman of Cooltrader, said six more stores were now in the pipeline, two of which would be in north London. "We have 40 stores now, with plans to open ten per year in the next few years."
The London stores will be run on a trial basis, and are expected to open by the end of next February. Pritchard refused to specify their exact location, but said they were intended to act as a "beachhead" for many more stores in the south.
The plans represent a major step for the company, which opened its first store in Wrexham, north east Wales, in 2001. Shortly after it was established, founder Malcolm Walker, now chief executive of Iceland, said: "We're looking to build a small chain probably along the north Wales coast and keep it private."
The first of the new batch of six stores is scheduled to open in Manchester in three weeks. The north London stores are existing units with sales areas of 3,000 sq ft, similar to other Cooltrader shops. Pritchard said the chain's continued expansion would be through the acquisition of single units, including anything from Pizza Hut outlets to Boots stores.
"You would be amazed how many of these sorts of units are starting to become available," he said.
There were no plans to change Cooltrader's core proposition, with stores containing 60% frozen food ranges and 40% fast-moving discounted products.
But Pritchard dismissed rumours of plans to turn Iceland's old Deeside warehouse into an additional distribution centre for Cooltrader. "Since our focus for growth is the south, we're more likely to open a secondary site down there."