The boss of the world’s most famous shortbread brand has said the business remains “robust” despite enduring two of the toughest years in its history as the price of its key ingredient soared.
But while Jim Walker, managing director of Aberlour-based Walkers, is hopeful the worst of the cost increases may be over, he warned the firm can take “nothing for granted” amid continuing lack of clarity over Brexit.
Mr Walker was speaking as the company’s annual results showed its turnover grew 2.7% to £147 million in 2018 and its profits rose after plunging the year before.
The figures, published by Companies House, revealed Walkers’ pre-tax profits increased to £7m in the year to the end of last December, from £5m in the previous 12 months. The company’s export sales rose by 3% to 47% of its total turnover in 2018.
Mr Walker said: “Our financial performance was impacted by a further increase in the wholesale price of butter, only part of which was recovered through improved customer pricing. The burden placed on the company by this increase in costs has, without doubt, made the past two years some of the most challenging we have seen in our long history.”
He added that the lack of clarity over Brexit and “turbulent political events of recent weeks” were “deeply unsettling”.
Although describing 2019 as “equally challenging” as last year, Mr Walker said the strength of the company’s brand, its geographical market spread and “excellent” workforce enabled it to “face the future with confidence”.