Founded by an ex-hotelier, the idea of Icebox was formed from a chance encounter with an ice supplier, who dumped a bag of ice in the middle of a restaurant in Chelsea before shouting ‘Oi! Your ice is here!’
Realising that this was not a one-off occurrence and that there was a need for great quality ice combined with better quality service, Icebox was formed.
From its humble origins, a couple of ice machines, and a clear commitment to service, Icebox has spent the last 30 years building a very cool success story and is now the only UK ice provider that can deliver bagged ice, bespoke cubes and hand-carved ice sculptures.
In fact, the team is now renowned worldwide for its one-of-a-kind ice carvings, working across more than 23 countries to provide hand-crafted sculptures and helping to launch products and events like nothing else.
From life-size houses constructed in Germany that are each made out of six arctics of ice, to iconic cars for product launches, and ice trails through UK cities, there’s nothing yet that Icebox can’t sculpt and the list of brands Icebox has helped launch is jaw-dropping.
It’s this creative, trailblazing mentality that has seen the team also create truly bespoke ice cubes for London’s top hotels, bars and restaurants. And as its reputation has grown, Icebox has also become the go-to provider of bagged ice to many of the UK’s biggest festivals and events; trusted by caterers and event organisers who know that they won’t let them down on quality, price, or service.
Revolutionising the ice market
With Owner/CEO Richard Elmer and MD Greg Pittard at the helm, the company continues to stay one step ahead.
One perfect example of this is the team’s invention of the Bar Block in 2012: a large bar of solid ice that cocktail bars used to carve off ice shards for drinks. The team re-introduced ice spheres, known as moonballs, to the market and went large with big 50mm square cubes to meet the increasing demand for something new, distinct and special.
Yet, the demand for different didn’t stop there. Without the tools or equipment on the market to satisfy this demand, the team invented their own; refashioning butcher’s saws to create new product lines and bringing in machinery from the woodworking industry, adapting it for a frozen environment so logos could be embedded in the centre of the ice.
“We’re always on the move”, comments Richard. “Creating dynamic products, trying something new different and paving the way for the next innovation.”
Now sold in the tens of thousands, the popularity of Icebox’s bespoke cube offering has exploded and the team has found ways to help its client and the planet with ice that was previously shipped in 2kg plastic bags, now being hand-packed in cardboard boxes.
So much more than frozen water
The evolution of Icebox’s bagged ice proposition is equally compelling. Since its creation in 1993, the business has focused its proposition on combining the very best ice with the very best customer service.
It’s because of this, that Icebox now works with a number of UK festivals, event organisers and caterers. From British Summer Time and The Secret Garden Party to All Points East, Silverstone and Royal Ascot, its clients rely on the Icebox team to deliver – whenever, and wherever.
To ensure they could meet this growing demand and the fluctuating volumes that come with the unpredictable British weather, Richard and the team invested in new state of the art facilities in Central London, incorporating the latest equipment and technologies to produce the best ice at a competitive price.
Icebox is fiercely loyal to its clients and they return the favour; many of whom have worked with icebox since day one.
“What I tell you we’re going to do we’ll do: that’s the difference”, says Richard. “We’re trusted and respected by our clients because we always deliver. They understand what they are going to get with us, from the moment they pick up the phone to ice delivery.”
A critical eye on safety
Understanding that safety is paramount in the food and hospitality industries, Icebox is SALSA accredited and gets its water independently tested monthly to ensure it meets the high standards they and their clients expect. Its bagged ice and bespoke ice are also produced and packed in a completely sterile environment, avoiding anything that will impact the quality and safety of the ice that they know their clients rely on.
Building its new facilities has also meant that Icebox has been able to enhance its environmental credentials: active power management systems ensure maximum efficiency of Icebox’s freezers, heating and ventilation, and its ULEZ-compliant vehicles have been fitted with trackers to deliver the same level of efficiency across its fleet.
The ultimate problem-solvers
In its quest to be a true pioneer, Icebox always has one eye on the future: looking to solve the answers to questions before its clients even ask them.
Top of their list at the moment is protecting the planet. As one of the earth’s most natural products, Icebox wants to make and deliver ice as sustainably as possible; reducing its environmental impact, and helping clients do the same.
Having seen the success of removing 2kg plastic bags from its bespoke cube products, Icebox has turned its attention to bagged ice, to remove 2kg plastic bags of ice completely from its operations ahead of the government’s Net Zero 2050 target.
By doing this, and moving to 4kg and ultimately 12kg bags, Icebox has worked out that it can reduce its client’s plastic consumption in this area by as much as 80%.
Richard and the team recognise this isn’t as simple as it sounds, so they’re offering complimentary ice audits to clients to help maximise ice usage and minimise waste, all without hampering productivity or service levels.
“We’ll look at where you store your ice, how you store it, and where you need it and we’ll find a way to improve this,” says Richard. “In doing this we can improve productivity and reduce plastic; removing the need for 2kg bags of ice and helping our clients hit their ESG targets.”
Alongside this, Icebox is actively looking at ways to reduce all plastic waste, working with supplier partners to explore the use of biodegradable bags, and reviewing the whole life cycle of ice production to make it as sustainable as possible.
What’s next for Icebox?
The investment in its new production facilities has opened up new opportunities for Icebox, giving it the capacity and capability to build on its strong client list in the festivals, events, and sports and leisure market.
The demand for bespoke ice and truly unique sculptures also continues to grow, and having managed the London Ice Sculpture Festival, the team has been asked to deliver and manage a range of festive ice rinks, so watch this space!
This year is going to be a busy one for Icebox: a business and a team proving that ice is definitely so much more than frozen water.
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