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Walker’s Shortbread travel retail sales soar by 150% as tourism drives demand for shortbread

07/08/2023
Walkers Shortbread at Edinburgh Airport

TRAVEL and tourism is driving increased demand for heritage products such as shortbread, as sales of Walker’s Shortbread in airports and train stations have risen by 150% in the past year.

The family-run company – which is based in the Scottish Highlands and has been baking ‘Scotland’s finest’ shortbread for the past 125 years – has witnessed an increased appetite for its products in travel retail, as tourists reach for products which are rooted in history and cultural heritage.

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Walker’s latest global travel retail (GTR) range, launched in March 2022, has been a catalyst for growth in the channel, with products now sold in over 30 markets globally. It experienced demand both in the UK and overseas as people purchased shortbread as a gift or a self-treat, with self-purchasing on the rise from 46% pre-pandemic to 53% in the first quarter of 2023.

According to recent research, 40% of people say they’re more likely to try local delicacies when they visit a new country as opposed to familiar foods, while 69% of people say this makes them feel they’ve had a more authentic travel experience.

Nicky Walker, Managing Director at Walker’s Shortbread, said: “Shortbread is synonymous with Scotland, and it’s wonderful that travel and tourism is helping to drive demand for this product, putting Scotland on a world stage. With a history spanning 125 years, Walker’s has transformed from a village bakery into an internationally renowned business, demonstrating the longevity of the brand which continues to thrive despite challenging market conditions and ongoing demand for heritage products of this kind.

“Walker’s recently expanded its offering and incorporated sleek new branding with today’s consumer front of mind – and GTR has been an important part of this. We remain committed to producing high-quality products which have Walker’s heritage at its core, ensuring we reach more consumers across more markets.”

To meet increased demand, Walker’s is launching a travel retail campaign with Scottish heritage at its core – set to reach around 21.4 million tourists this month [August], with an experiential pop-up at Edinburgh Airport and marketing activities at train stations across the UK. It’s part of a wider effort by the company to invest in GTR and more brand-led experiences which celebrate Walker’s heritage whilst appealing to local markets.

Walker’s is taking up residence at Edinburgh Airport from 1st to 31st August with a brand space which features a structure of Edinburgh Castle made of 2,933 shortbread pieces, constructed by renowned UK food artist, Prudence Staite. Located past airport security, it will reach over a million tourists at a time when visitor numbers are high for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The area showcases Walker’s iconic tartan along with illustrations which merge Scottish landmarks with shortbread shapes. Visitors will have the chance to sample Walker’s shortbread during peak times and help themselves to a free Walker’s postcard.

In addition, the company has invested in marketing at 63 WHSmith stores, including at Edinburgh Airport and train stations across the UK from, 3rd to 23rd August, with sampling at WHSmith stores in Edinburgh Waverley Station, Glasgow Central Station in Scotland and Euston, St. Pancras, Paddington, Waterloo, and Liverpool Street stations in London across 8th, 9th and 10th August. 

Nicky added: “We’re thrilled to bring this brand experience to Edinburgh Airport, demonstrating our growing ambitions in this space. We look forward to bringing more brand-led experiences of this kind to consumers, and to welcoming more people to the world of Walker’s, knowing that wherever their next destination, they are taking home Scotland at its finest.”

Walker’s much-loved shortbread recipe has been in the family’s recipe books since 1898. Provenance, quality and heritage are so central to the Walker’s brand and is part of what makes it so popular across the globe. For more information about Walker’s Shortbread’s history, click here. To shop the latest products, click here

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