Iceland joins MDS

Another prominent British retailer has committed to investing in young talent in the food and fresh produce industry. UK frozen food supermarket, Iceland, has taken on its first trainees from Management Development Services (MDS), the specialists in graduate training for the fresh produce sector.

Iceland, which opened its first store in 1970, now has over 900 stores throughout the UK. With rapid growth in online shopping, it has invested in thousands of new roles across the business to meet demand. As an MDS Member Business, it will be joining a powerful network of other corporates in the fresh produce supply chain including Branston, British Sugar, G’s Fresh and the Langmead Group.

Iceland HR Director Helen Tindle, said that the business was very aware of the success of MDS Trainees before becoming a member: “We are proud to have MDS alumni amongst our senior leadership team and have seen the success they have brought to the business. We joined MDS as getting new talent into the food industry and retail is vital if we are to continue to grow our own future leaders. MDS is the perfect solution to remove cost and risk from the typical route into graduate recruitment schemes. We are excited to start taking placements and are really pleased to be in a position to work with MDS to help develop trainees from the beginning of their journey.”

Oliver Gilding

Oliver Gilding

Two of the first three Trainees – Oliver Gilding and Harry Weston – have been seconded to commercial roles within the business, and Danielle Grootes is working in New Product Development. MDS Trainees are university graduates from a variety of disciplines including engineering, agriculture and food science, rigorously selected by MDS for their management potential.

Sapphira Walden, MDS Chief Operation Officer, said:“Working with Iceland as it expands its business in new directions is exciting and a great opportunity for our trainees. We are looking forward to developing the roles and the trainees with Helen and the team.”

MDS Trainees are placed in four different six-month secondments over two years in up to four different member companies, taking on significant responsibility from the start. Secondments are combined with formal off-the-job training, coaching and mentoring, and results in the highly regarded L5 Leadership and Management apprenticeship qualification.

Danielle Grootes

Danielle Grootes

Over 97% of MDS trainees are recruited into the fresh produce industry on completion of their training, the majority into Member Businesses.

Iceland Foods Trading Director Andrew Staniland is an MDS Alumni and took part in an MDS Beanstalk Global webinar in 2020. The retailer also recruited a recent MDS graduate, James Moran, in October 2020.

For further information or to find out more about how fresh produce businesses can work with MDS, see




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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.