Iceland Foods has signalled its intent to ramp up overseas expansion by considering a bid for bankrupt Belgian frozen retailer O’Cool.

Iceland was “talking to O’Cool about getting involved,” with a view to purchasing its 107 stores, Iceland chairman and CEO Malcolm Walker told Icelandic business television programme Klinkio.

Walker said the deal was “very complicated,” but if it didn’t go through, Iceland was looking “generally at Europe”.

Iceland stepped up its interest in overseas expansion by appointing ex-Aldi MD Paul Foley in the new role of international business director last month (The Grocer, 1 September).

Iceland had previously limited its European operations to one store in the Czech Republic, plus franchise agreements in Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and the Republic of Ireland. It also exports Iceland products to more than 100 retailers in 34 countries through Iceland’s export arm ITEX.

Walker and Foley were at Iceland’s annual retail conference in Dublin this week and were unavailable for comment. A spokesman for Iceland could not confirm the status of the O’Cool deal, but said: “We are running a slide rule over a number of countries at present to assess where our successful business model can be positioned without significant change - and that process has not concluded.”

French frozen food retailer Picard has also been linked to O’Cool.

Meanwhile, Walker also confirmed that Iceland was looking to add three more stores in the Czech Republic and had also been testing the Eastern European appetite for frozen ready meals by trialling a range in Hungary for a year.

“I think there is great potential there and we are taking it more and more seriously,” said Walker.