Iconic Scots food firm Walker’s Shortbread appoints whisky boss as new finance director

Iconic Scottish food producer Walker’s Shortbread has named a top whisky boss as its new finance director.

Norman Ross is currently finance director of Speymalt Whisky Distributors, better known as Gordon & MacPhail. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon

Norman Ross is currently finance director of Speymalt Whisky Distributors, better known as Gordon & MacPhail.

Ross studied at Edinburgh Napier University and Abertay University and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1999. Prior to Gordon & MacPhail, he was financial controller of Highlands and Islands Airports.

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He will be replacing Dave Edwards, who was the first ever finance director to be appointed at Walker’s Shortbread 13 years ago, and who has established a strong finance function across the company’s global operations. Since Edwards’ appointment, the firm has expanded into more than 90 countries.

Chairman Bob Brannan said: “Norman joins Walker’s at an exciting time in its development having demonstrated his credentials at Gordon & MacPhail, a progressive and dynamic Speyside business with international reach.”

Ross added: “I have long admired the company and its rich heritage, and am excited to be part of this next chapter for Walker’s as it continues to grow worldwide.”

Ross will join the firm in the first half of 2021, with his start date to be confirmed.

Walker’s Shortbread was founded in 1898 by Joseph Walker in the Speyside village of Aberlour.

In October, the firm released results for 2019, with joint managing director Jim Walker noting that the family-owned business remained well funded with a strong balance sheet.

He said the firm had closed its factories for a three-week period and placed its workforce on furlough at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, before introducing physical distancing measures and restarting production.

The results for the year ended 31 December 2019 revealed turnover of £148.8 million, compared with £147m the year before. Export revenues grew from 47 per cent to 49 per cent of the total haul. Operating profit amounted to £6.8m, down marginally on the £7.1m reported 12 months earlier.

Walker said: “We only returned to work when social distancing measures for the food industry outlined by the UK and Scottish governments were observed in their entirety.

“Since then production has been successfully rebuilt. Nevertheless, we are taking steps to improve our efficiency by streamlining our product range.”

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