Iceland Foods has been named the UK’s best big company to work for by the Sunday Times.

At the same time, Iceland chief executive Malcolm Walker was named best leader of a big company in the UK.

Iceland moves up to the top slot after being named sixth last year, continuing a steady rise that saw it ranked 13th in 2010 and 14th the year before. Iceland is the only national food retailer to feature in the table this year.

“We’ve always known that Iceland is the best company to work for, not just in the UK, but in the world, and it is great to have this confirmed by such a respected independent survey,” said Walker.

“When we first entered [the list] in 2009 I said I wouldn’t be happy until we were number one and I am absolutely delighted we have now achieved this goal. Our ranking is decided entirely by what our own people said during the survey about working for Iceland, so I want to say an absolutely massive thank you to all of them.

“They are simply the best team anywhere, and the fact that they have remained so positive and committed throughout all the uncertainties of our share sale is an absolute inspiration.”

The news comes after Walker this month won the race to take over the chain from Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Glitnir.