Richard Walker, the CEO of frozen food retailer, Iceland, has often been painted as a vocal critic of the government, holding ministers to account during the cost-of-living crunch. But now the socially conscious supermarket boss wants to join their ranks. 

Declaring his ambition to Times Radio to “absolutely” stand as a Tory MP at the next election, the 42-year-old said: “I’m a strong believer in compassionate conservatism, one-nation conservatism and opportunities for all.” 

Walker voiced the importance of “businessmen and women working with the government to try to find solutions to help the most vulnerable through the cost-of-living [crisis],” and insisted: “I’ve got an obligation to speak out on behalf of our five million customers, many of whom are struggling.”

While confirming he is on the approved list of Conservative candidates, he is still deliberating on which seat he’d pitch for. 

So what else do we know about Richard Walker? For starters, he is the son of Iceland’s founder Malcolm Walker. While on the face of it a “nepo baby”, Walker insists he worked his way up from the shop floor. On his first day as a shelf-stacker, he was “self-conscious about being the chairman’s son.”

Awarded an OBE for his services to business and the environment, he has been described as one of the UK’s leading corporate activists. In 2021, he published a book, “The Green Grocer: One Man’s Manifesto for Corporate Activism”, in which he details practical ways businesses can promote social justice while still generating a profit.

Walker appears to practice what he preaches. Under his leadership, Iceland has been proactive in launching schemes to shield its customers from the soaring cost of living.

Despite rampant food inflation, the supermarket has committed to – and today extended – a price freeze on its £1 value range. 

The retailer also pioneered schemes to restrict single-use plastic and to eradicate palm oil products from its shelves. More recently, it launched a new scheme to employ ex-offenders, after appointing former offender turned priest Paul Cowley as the company’s director of rehabilitation.

Walker’s other personal accolades include chairing the environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage, an honorary fellowship from UCL and acting as an ambassador for Britain’s leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK

A worthy and impressive CV, no doubt. Yet how will he fare in the cutthroat world of politics? 

Walker has previously said that the best advice he’s been given came from his father: “Never, ever, ever, ever give up.” Sounds like a good start. 

But perhaps the most burning question of all: if he wants to secure a seat at the next election, has he picked the right party?

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