British grocer Iceland is quietly closing Czech operations

The brand's Czech e-shop has gone offline, while multiple Prague branches have shut down and more closures are coming, according to employees.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 24.04.2022 14:13:00 (updated on 24.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague expats were given a welcome dose of international food products at affordable prices when British discount grocer Iceland opened in the Czech Republic in 2011. Over the next ten years, the chain would open about a dozen branches in and around residential areas of Prague.

A decade later, Iceland may now be closing down its local operations, and the end of the chain in the Czech Republic may be coming sooner than anticipated.

Numerous signs point to the Iceland fully ceasing Czech operations in the near future, though an official statement has yet to be made and the company has yet to respond to requests for comment.

Iceland branch in
Iceland branch in Hloubětín. Photo: Jason Pirodsky

At least two Prague stores have closed in recent weeks: Iceland branches in Hostivice and by the shopping center in Chodov (another Chodov store remains open, for the time being).

We spoke to two employees at a branch in Hloubětín yesterday, who confirmed that the company was closing its Czech stores. They added that all stores, not only the Hloubětín branch, would be closing by the last week in April or first week in May; even employees had not been given a definitive date. 

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Guest comments on Iceland.cz's latest social media post, dating back six weeks, would seem to confirm an open secret.

Just last year, Iceland launched its own e-shop, following successful collaboration with Czech delivery service Košík.cz.

But after only months of operation, that e-shop is no longer working. As of writing, just 15 Iceland products are in stock on Košík.cz, slim pickings although the delivery service never offered the store's full range of products.

These latest developments may be the culmination of a series of unfortunate events that have affected numerous local businesses in recent years.

Two years ago, Brexit put a dent in Iceland's offerings, as shipping delays from the UK forced the store to look for alternatives to fresh food products. Irish cheddar replaced English cheeses in the store's fridges, and other products were gone for good. Marks and Spencer, Prague's other alternative for British foods, removed their refrigerated goods section altogether.

Over the last two years, the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions have impacted numerous businesses, especially those importing goods from abroad. And surging energy prices following the war in Ukraine may have been the proverbial nail in the coffin.

While it may not have had an impact on its Czech stores, Iceland faced one other external threat in recent years: Iceland, the country, which filed a trademark dispute against the British retailer over use of "Iceland" within the EU. In 2019, the country won back the right to use its own name, at least within the European Union.

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If you want to get your fill of Iceland's trademark British frozen food in Prague, you might want to hurry: your local branch may not be there for much longer.

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