Production returns

Walkers repays furlough, and unveils subtle rebrand


Branding will change next year

Walkers Shortbread has become the latest company to return furlough payments received from the Treasury.

It has paid back £1.35m as production has steadily returned towards pre-pandemic levels and the threat to employment has been avoided.

The Speyside company’s move follows repayments by Scottish Sea Farms, Smart Metering Systems and the Wildland company in the Highlands owned by Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen. Housebuilders Barratt, Redrow, and Taylor Wimpey, together with Games Workshop and The Spectator magazine have also repaid money received under the Job Retention Scheme.

Regarding current trading, Walkers is expected to benefit from the US dropping the tariffs imposed in a tit-for-tat dispute with the EU.

However, it said it was “deeply concerned” at the effect Covid-19 was already having on exports and those parts of the business underpinned by tourism and travel, according to accounts just published.

Together with the uncertain impact of Brexit, it anticipates margins and overall profitability will remain below historic norms.

Walkers reported reduced operating profits of £6.8million for the year to the end of December 2019 from £7.1m in 2018. Turnover edged up to £148.8m from £147m last time. The directors do not intend to pay a final dividend.

There is also a subtle change of name with the Walkers branding changed to Walker’s.

Joint managing director Jim Walker said: “Students of grammar will note the all-important apostrophe.”

He said it would emphasise that the company is still run by one family, hence the apostrophe signifying singularity.

The new name is part of a rebranding that will be introduced over the course of the next year.

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