​Walker’s Shortbread Faces Rising Costs Despite Boost in Sales

​Walker’s Shortbread Faces Rising Costs Despite Boost in Sales

Posted by Emily on 5th Oct 2023

Walker’s Shortbread, a renowned family-run biscuit maker, witnessed soaring domestic and international sales last year. However, escalating costs proved a challenge.

Handmade shortbread at the bakery Elumineau, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The company reported a substantial 16% increase in overall sales, reaching £164.6 million. UK sales saw a rise of 23%, bringing in £77 million, while international sales grew by 10% to achieve £87.6 million, as per their 2022 accounts. The brand, active in 100 international markets, also observed a resurgence in travel retail sales with more travellers returning to airports.

Yet, the uptick in costs for raw materials and utilities impacted their profit margins. The operating profits showed a slight dip, settling at £6 million, down from the previous £6.2 million.

Tracing its roots back to 1898, Joseph Walker inaugurated a bakery in the Scottish Highlands with the dream of producing the world's most exceptional shortbread. To this day, it remains under the stewardship of the Walker family and stands as a primary private employer in the region, with facilities in Aberlour and Elgin and a team of over 1,200.

Holder of a royal warrant, Walker’s Shortbread not only supplies shortbread and oatcakes but also produces an assortment of cakes, cookies, and biscuits.

Last year, the company's leadership mantle was taken up by former football star Nicky Walker, with past associations with teams like Hearts, Rangers, and Scotland. Reflecting on the year's performance, he stated, “It was pleasing to see demand return in a substantial way . . . 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.”

Nicky Walker, having dedicated over 25 years to the company post his football stint, also mentioned efforts introduced to realise further production and procurement efficiencies to tackle the cost surge.

Hand-cut shortbread fingers Elumineau, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The company’s recent brand makeover, which has been globally appreciated, celebrates its Scottish heritage, including imaginative representations of landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, fashioned uniquely from shortbread.

Reiterating his commitment, Nicky Walker affirmed, “We continue to focus our efforts on moving the business forward, further developing it for a bright, sustainable future.”


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