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Christening Reykjavík’s Polar Bear

HB Grandi’s new cold store at its Nordurgardur location was formally opened yesterday and given it´s Ísbjörninn (Polar Bear) name. The name resulted from a competition among the staff and the winning name came from seven different people. The committee was in agreement that this as a fitting and apt name that suits the building’s purpose while also being linked to the site as the name of one of the companies that formed HB Grandi.

Approximately 1500 people attended the opening ceremony, and no fewer than 15,000 made the journey out to Nordurgardur where HB Grandi organised a series of events for Seamen’s Day, an important event in Iceland’s calendar. HB Grandi managing director Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson welcomed guests, including the president of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, minister of finance Bjarni Benediktsson and city council leader Dagur B Eggertsson. The company’s staff and those who worked on the new cold store’s construction and their families were also among the guests.

The President’s speech touched on the struggle to establish the right to manage Iceland’s own fishing grounds, commenting that fishermen, fish workers and fishing companies have been a central pillar of creating the standard of living that Icelanders enjoy today. HB Grandi, which was awarded the The President of Iceland’s Award for Export Achievement earlier this year, has been at the forefront of this, and the construction of the new cold store in only a few months demonstrates the company’s determination to excel.

Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson welcomed the guests and mentioned that it was an additional pleasure to be able to open the new cold store on Seamen’s Day, and took the opportunity to congratulate Iceland’s seamen, adding that it had been a source of real satisfaction to see the magnificent new building take shape in such a short time that was in fact only six months.

‘This is the result of experience and expertise, as well as some outstanding co-operation between all those who were involved. There isn’t time to mention all those who put their shoulders to the wheel, although it is only right that I mention Íslenska aðalverktaka, who built the cold store and selected the right sub-contractors with the skills and experience in their own fields, as well as Kælismidjan Frost who designed and installed the refrigeration system and with whom we have a long history.’

‘A building like this doesn’t take shape in such an prominent location unless there is agreement. I can say that it has been a pleasure to be able to co-operate in this with the city authorities and with Associated Icelandic Ports. In particular I would like to mention Hjálmar Sveinsson, and his enthusiasm was an important factor in being able to select the work of art that will be placed at the south-eastern wall of the cold store.

Later in his speech, Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson returned to the subject of the competition among the company’s staff, mentioning that 305 responses received by the committee from a staff of 400 demonstrates the workforce’s dedication to and interest in HB Grandi’s activities.

‘There were seven people who put forward the name that was selected. I’d like to invite them all to the stage but Hannes Páll Viglundsson couldn´t be with us today. Those who are present are Gestur Ingvi Kristinsson, Gudjón Antoníusson, Jón Páll Gestsson, Katrín Kristjánsdóttir, Sæmundur Árni Hermannsson and Valgerdur Sveinsdóttir. When the competition was announced, it was decided that the name would be chosen from those put forward and in the light of the number of participants, it was decided that those who suggested the winning name should each receive the prize of ISK100,000. The winning name is Ísbjörninn (Polar Bear) and we are grateful that the reverend Hjálmar Jónsson is also present to bless out Polar Bear,’ Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson said at the end of his speech, concluding that; ‘Following on from our excellent co-operation with the Reykjavík city council, we can also say that we have fulfilled mayor Jón Gnarr’s election promise to bring a Polar Bear to Reykjavík.’