The annual results for the year ended 31 December 2022 showed top-line growth, driven predominately by Walker’s Shortbread’s US and UK sales, with the latter a result of a strong post-Covid festive season.
The 125-year-old company has been benefitting from a rise in sales in domestic and overseas markets. Sales in the UK rose by 23% reaching £77m and export revenues grew by nearly 10% to £87.6m.
Walker’s exports its packaged luxury bakery products to approximately 100 countries worldwide. Strong performance in global travel retail coincided with a return to air travel following a lift in Covid restrictions.
In 2021, the business underwent a successful rebrand in that continued into the next year, which its MD Nicky Walker citing this as key in achieving topline growth, alongside travel and tourism returning to ‘normal’.
However, the business has not been without its challenges – the ongoing economic pressures has seen raw material price points increase and service levels squeezed, causing profits to dip from £6.2m to £6m compared to the previous trading year.
The business looked to mitigate against these headwinds with the roll-out of new production efficiencies and procurement strategies. While these contributed to gains in the year, the brand reports it was not enough to avoid cost pressures in full.
Commenting on the annual results, 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.”
Walker noted that the brand will continue to press forwards, with the rebrand to run into 2024 as part of a global roll-out.
“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,” added Walker.
“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.”