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    ‘Easier to temporarily close stores as energy costs are unsustainable’

    Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

    Supermarket chain Iceland is considering closing some stores temporarily owing to “completely unsustainable” energy costs. 

    Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland says he has been forced to halt the opening of planned new stores after the latest energy bill for the chain rose by £20 million.  

    “We’ve got to make decisions because we have got this unmanageable volatility. In some instances, it might just be easier to mothball shops or temporarily close them because the energy costs are just completely unsustainable,” Walker told The Mail.  

    The boss of the frozen food retailer, has contacted number ten with an urgent plea to prepare an immediate cost of living package for businesses, saying his chain is “fighting to keep the lights on” after its recent energy bill more than doubled. 

    Walker added that soaring energy prices, wage inflation and labour shortages had left Iceland facing its worst crisis in more than half a century.   

    Iceland is facing the prospect of a cliff edge as his firm’s energy remains hedged for just the next ten weeks.  

    “We are good at selling frozen peas,” said Walker. “We are not electricity traders. If you look at the spiralling energy markets, then you know it won’t stop there. We’ve got winter coming and nothing is being done about it. Consumers rightly need to be supported, but business needs to be supported as well.” 

    Walker added that many of his small and mid-sized suppliers were warning of collapse.  

    “Iceland is going to be large and strong enough to ride out this storm,” he said, but he added that suppliers were at a “real risk of going bust”, threatening thousands of jobs.  

    The news comes as the energy price cap is set to rise by 80 per cent from 1 October 2022. 

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