Domino’s Pizza Group Exits Icelandic Market

The British company Domino’s Pizza Group has decided to exit markets in Iceland, Sweden and Norway, RÚV reports. The company used to own Domino’s Pizza in the country but now intends to sell their ownership. Domino’s Pizza restaurants will stay open in Iceland regardless, says Birgir Örn Birgisson, director of Domino’s Icelandic branch.

On its website, Domino’s Pizza Group’s Chief Executive Officer, David Wild says that despite solid performance in the UK and Ireland “the performance of our international business remains disappointing”. This has led to the company’s decision to exit markets “in an orderly manner”. The company’s measures began earlier this year with its withdrawal from Denmark, but now other Nordic countries have followed as well.

Birgir Örn Birgisson, the head of Domino’s Pizza in Iceland says that even though the company will relinquish ownership, he intends to keep the franchise open in Iceland. “For us in Iceland this doesn’t mean any change to the business. We’ll continue our operations as before, and we are doing well. The other markets have been struggling so [Domino’s Pizza Group] decided to throw in the towel”.

Asked about how Domino’s Pizza Group intends to carry out the sale of the franchise in Iceland, Birgir says the company hasn’t made it fully clear. “But that’s what they intend to do. They’re going to sell it as Domino’s. They need clearance to do that from the Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor. This will take some time to sort out.” 

Domino’s Pizza has 24 restaurants in Iceland, with about 800 employees. But Birgir is quick to point out that despite ownership changing hands, Domino’s restaurants will remain open. “For Icelanders there will be no change, we sold our restaurants to Domino’s Pizza Group three years ago and things didn’t change then so I don’t anticipate any chance now either”.

Industrial Hemp Production Discussed in Parliament

Alþingi Icelandic parliament

Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation of Iceland says she is willing to look into the possibility of reforming laws around hemp production for industrial use in Iceland, RÚV reports.

Halldóra Mogensen, MP for the Pirate Party, initiated the discussion, pointing out that drug laws in Iceland have made life difficult for companies and individuals interested in hemp products. She also stressed that by hemp, she is not referring to cannabis indica or other products that contain large amounts of the psychoactive chemical THC, but rather industrial hemp that is non-psychoactive and can be used for medication, clothing and many other applications.

Halldóra stressed that Icelandic law concerning hemp is in a “grey area” and the co-operation of various ministries would be needed to rectify the situation.

Þórdís in turn responded by saying that if production of non-psychoactive hemp could produce jobs and prosperity, she’s keen to look into it. Adding that “prejudices that people might have for the drug should not be a hindrance for other types of hemp being utilised”.

Experimental hemp production is already underway in Iceland. In Gautavík, farmer Pálmi Einarsson has been growing industrial hemp. He was among the speakers at a conference earlier this month called Hemp for the Future, where the many uses of hemp and its possible role in Iceland’s future was discussed. It was the first conference of its kind in Iceland.

Iceland Faces Possible Grey Listing for Inadequate Money Laundering Policies

money

The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering), or FAFT, is holding its annual meeting this week in Paris. There, representatives from 205 nations have convened to discuss nations who haven’t taken adequate measures to prevent money laundering and/or financing of terrorist groups. Reportedly, the United States and the United Kingdom are fighting to put Iceland on a grey list for its lacklustre legislature concerning money laundering, Vísir reports.

FAFT is currently debating the fate of countries like Iran, Pakistan and Iceland, all of which are considered to have posed a threat to the stability of financial markets in one way or another. If Iceland ends up being grey listed it will join countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Uganda. Further down, on FAFT’s black list, are countries like North-Korea.

Iceland reportedly has full support from the EU, who are keen to keep any EFTA country off the dreaded grey list. The US and UK, however are reportedly fighting hard to make Iceland accountable for its sluggishness in monetary reform. Insiders say that since Iceland is a small country, making an example of it would be a powerful, yet inexpensive, way for FAFT to make its message heard.

Insiders also point out that the situation is a serious indictment of Icelandic governance, which has indeed been slow to respond to FAFT’s demands for monetary reform. If Iceland ends up on the grey list, it could damage the country’s reputation, which in turn might make it harder for Icelandic companies and individuals to do business abroad.

Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson wins Gramophone Artist of the Year Award

Icelandic pianist Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson won the coveted Artist of the Year award at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2019 last night, RÚV reports.

Gramophone is a UK based classical music publication and their awards have been referred to as the ‘Oscars of classical music’. Víkingur accepted the prestigious prize in person during the awards ceremony, which took place at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in central London. The publication described Víkingur as having the gift of “making something familiar feel entirely his own, drawing you into a world where no other interpretation seems possible”.

Víkingur is a rising star in the classical music world. In 2017, he signed with Deutsche Grammophon and has put out a few well received releases on the classical label, most notably two albums featuring his renditions of works by Philip Glass and Johann Sebastian Bach, respectively. Earlier this year he won the Album of the Year award and Instrumental Album of the Year award at the BBC Music Magazine awards, as well as the Opus Klassik award for best piano album, all for his album of Bach renditions.