Iceland is set to become a major player in the Irish grocery market once again, five years after a shock withdrawal that gave staff just 24 hours' notice before its outlets in the Republic were closed down.

The return has been masterminded by the AIM Group, a Dublin-based independent wholesaler that owns the Irish franchise for Iceland. It is promising a roll-out of 40 Iceland stores, plus 65 other bargain outlets, over the next four years, representing an investment of 35m.

Hundreds of shoppers queued at Dublin's Ilac centre for the opening of a new Iceland outlet last week. Three other stores have also opened in Dublin in the past few months and, according to AIM chief executive Tom Keogh, further sites are being sought across the Republic.

"There will be a vigorous roll-out of stores over the next two or three years," he said. "The plan is to have the 40 in place by 2014."

When it pulled out of the country, Iceland said it could no longer sustain the losses its Irish operation was suffering. The Irish economy was booming at that time and Iceland was struggling to appeal to a new generation of affluent consumers. With the Irish economy now in such crisis that a bailout by the International Monetary Fund is being discussed, Keogh said the time was right for a comeback.

"We are aware of the current economic climate and have based our model and projections around where the country is at the moment," he said.

AIM is supporting the push with a new TV advertising campaign, alerting Irish customers to the fact that Iceland has returned.