Deeside-based Iceland has announced a record year with pre-tax profit up 19.4% in the 52 weeks to 26 March this year.
Pre-tax profit had increased from £113.4m in 2009 to £135.4m in 2010, while sales were up 10.4% to £2.256bn this year from £2.043bn in 2009 and like-for-like sales were up 4.3%.
Iceland said net debt had reduced to £7.6m from £85.4m in 2009. EBITDA was up 11.2% to £184.2m in 2010 from £165.6m in 2009.
Iceland also added that it had opened 74 new stores during the period, which included 51 former Woolworths sites.
In a statement released today, Malcolm Walker, Iceland chief executive, said: "This is the fifth year of strong growth my colleagues and I have delivered since we returned to manage the business in February 2005, and yet another record result for Iceland. The Group remains strongly cash generative and we ended the year virtually free of debt, despite funding increased capital expenditure of £54.5m (2009: £30.5m) as we stepped up our expansion programme with the opening of a record 74 new stores, our fastest rate of growth in any year since we acquired Bejam in 1989. All these openings took place on schedule, bringing new life to 51 town centres where we took over redundant Woolworths stores, and creating more than 2,500 new jobs.
"Iceland's customer numbers have continued to grow, aided by the build-up of our Bonus Card loyalty scheme which gives access to prizes, savings and our unique home delivery service. Store standards and customer service have again improved year on year, as measured by independent mystery shop results.
"We were pleased to receive recognition for the second year that Iceland is one of the Best 20 Large Companies to Work For in the UK, and it was the highest rated big company in the 2009 survey for employee satisfaction with their pay and benefits. I would like to thank all our staff throughout the Group for their contributions to another very successful year.
"We have continued to make a contribution to the wider community through the active involvement of our company and its people in charitable activities, with our contribution to Europe's largest children hospital, Alder Hey in Liverpool, since 2005 now exceeding £3m.
"On 18 November 2010 we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of the very first Iceland shop in Oswestry, Shropshire, and we hope to mark the event by raising at least £1m for the new Iceland Charitable Foundation we have established as an umbrella for our work with good causes. The lead charity the Foundation will be supporting in 2010/11 is Help for Heroes.
"The UK food retailing market has undoubtedly changed over the last year, with competition becoming more aggressive than ever. Nevertheless, I am confident that our proven business model, strong finances, excellent products, outstanding service, loyal customers and committed staff will enable us to make progress in this challenging environment."
The Iceland Group consists of 663 Iceland stores and 45 Cooltrader chains.