High butter prices have continued to take their toll on the finances of Walkers Shortbread despite the firm’s growing success in overseas markets.
Although the Aberlour-based business saw profits recover last year, it said operating margins were still well down on levels seen in earlier years and were “substantially short” of what the board sees as an acceptable return on its assets.
Group sales rose by 2.7 per cent to £147m with exports rising to 47 per cent of the total, helped by the strong pound. Operating profits came in at £7.2m, up from £5.1m in 2017 but still much lower than the £12.8m reported in 2016.
Director Jim Walker said the burden placed on the business by the increase in wholesale butter prices had made the past two years “some of the most challenging we have seen in our long history”.
He added pressure on prices in the UK grocery sector also “continues unabated”.