Walker’s shortbread marks 125th anniversary year with turnover upturn

Scotland’s Walker’s Shortbread is in celebratory mood after witnessing its annual turnover climb by 16%, rising from £142.4m to £164.6m, driven by US and UK markets, reports Neill Barston.

According to the company, which marked its 125th anniversary this summer, its latest results included a particularly strong post-pandemic festive season, with both domestic and overseas territories yielding encouraging performance.

Notably, UK sales increasing by 23% from £62.6m to £77m and export revenues rose by almost 10% to £87.6m, and come in the wake of a rebrand in 2021 that delivered an upturn in global travel retail coinciding with a return to air travel for many passengers.

However, challenges within the global market had impacted on profit margins, with ongoing pressures on global supply chains – intensified by the conflict in Ukraine – and a challenging inflationary environment impacted the business, as costs of raw materials rose, and service levels were squeezed. As a result, profits dipped from £6.2m to £6m compared to the previous trading year.

Significantly, the company added that it had addressed these market tests through introducing new production efficiencies and procurement strategies, both which contributed gains in the year.

Managing Director, Nicky Walker, said: “It was pleasing to see demand return in a substantial way through 2022 after a couple of challenging years during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The year presented numerous hurdles however, not least the continuing restrictions in the local labour market, but also substantial price increases coming from our suppliers. This volatility forced a review of all our incoming costs, with proactive conversations held with our entire supply chain.”

Mr Walker said that despite the challenging global environment, a post-pandemic lift and return to travel and tourism was key to achieving topline growth, along with the successful brand relaunch which is continuing in 2023 and 2024 as part of a global roll out.

He added: “The Walker’s brand relaunch was exceptionally well received last year, and we are excited at the prospect of the continued roll out through the remainder of this year and into next as we look forward to support the business’ aspiration for sustainable growth.

“I’d again like to acknowledge the support of our incredible team, whose efforts are invaluable to the business. It was especially pleasing that as part of our 125th anniversary celebrations in June we were able to say thank you to them in person, along with their families, at a company event.

“I, along with the Board and Executive Committee, continue to focus our efforts on moving the business forward, further developing it for a bright, sustainable future”.

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