A MAN who was sacked from every job he had went on to build one of the most successful supermarket empires in the UK.
Malcolm Walker, from Huddersfield, started his career at Woolworths but was sacked from the chain.
But he had other ideas – and his side hustle would go on to turn into popular frozen food chain Iceland.
The supermarket is best known for its budget selection of frozen food, and is becoming even more popular in the current cost of living crisis.
Malcolm, who is now 76, left school with almost no qualifications and was fired from two of his three paid jobs – even from his own brand Iceland in 2001.
But he returned four years later when the chain stopped doing so well under new management.
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In an interview on blog How Did They Do It?, Malcolm said: "I didn’t do very well at school and failed to get into Marks & Spencer, Littlewoods and John Lewis, but Woolworths would take anybody.
"Their training programme was on the job, you started at the bottom in the stock room sweeping the floor and hoped to become directors."
He was fired when Woolworths found out he had taken sick days to start his new business.
He said: "I couldn’t get any time off work so I went sick for three days and my partner had three days holiday.
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"We opened the shop and then at the end of the week we went to Woolies and carried on. Woolies found out about three months later and they fired us."
And in 2019, Sir Malcolm Walker CBE was estimated to be worth £265m by the Sunday Times Rich List.
Founded in 1970, the supermarket chain began with one store in Shropshire, with capital of only £30.
But within five years, the business had branched out to 15 more stores, and by 2000, sales had reached £2bn and over 700 shops.
It is estimated that Iceland has annual sales of almost £4bn per year.
Malcolm has three children, who all work for Iceland, and was married to childhood sweetheart Rhianydd Walker for over 50 years until she died in 2021.
He launched the charity Lady Walker Fund for Dementia in her memory.
The founder was appointed as a Knight Bachelor on the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2017 and was awarded the CBE in 1995.
He posted on social media in 2017: "I’m stunned and delighted to receive the great honour of a knighthood – and send many thanks to everyone who has congratulated me on it."
Iceland has now returned to its position as one of the biggest UK food retailers and was named the UK's best online supermarket by Which? last year.
There are stores overseas, in Spain, Portugal and Norway, and Iceland exports its own products around the world.
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Malcolm helped bail out Gino D'Acampo's struggling restaurant chain in 2020.
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