Walker’s Shortbread in massive UK travel retail push in August

By Simon Warburton |

Walker's Shortbread pop-up space at Edinburgh Airport

Walker’s Shortbread pop-up space at Edinburgh Airport.

Walker’s Shortbread has launched a travel retail campaign with a pop-up at Edinburgh Airport running through August to capitalise on the million tourists arriving by air to participate in the world-famous Fringe Festival (4-28 August).

The Scottish Highlands baker has taken up residence at the airport until 31 August with a space featuring a structure of Edinburgh Castle made of 2,933 shortbread pieces and constructed by renowned UK food artist, Prudence Staite.

Located past airport security, the pop-up will reach more than one million tourists at a time when visitors flock to Edinburgh for its Fringe Festival.

This will be coupled with a marketing drive across the UK at 63 WHSmith travel stores, meaning the campaign will reach a colossal 21.4m people this month.

Featuring Scottish heritage at its core, the drive is part of wider efforts by Walker’s to invest in DF&TR and more brand-led experiences.

Showcasing iconic tartan and Scottish landmarks

“Walker’s has been operating in travel retail since 1975 and as a heritage brand with global appeal, recently we have seen a growing demand from consumers in this space,” said Walker’s Shortbread Head of Marketing, Sarah Macaulay.

“Naturally, GTR remains a hugely important channel for the business and this activation reflects our aspirations and goals in this area. Sense of place is very important when it comes to GTR and that’s why it’s important to us we provide products which are tailored to specific markets, but have still Walker’s heritage at their core.”

The pop-up 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 3 August to 23 August, with sampling at outlets in Edinburgh Waverley Station, Glasgow Central Station and Euston, St. Pancras, Paddington, Waterloo and Liverpool Street stations in London from 8 to 10 August.

Walker’s 2,933 shortbread pieces in the shape of Edinburgh Castle.

Macaulay added: “We’re thrilled to bring this brand experience to Edinburgh Airport this summer, along with new marketing at WHSmith travel stores across the UK.

“We want to bring excitement and enjoyment to travel retail consumers as they travel through airports and train stations this summer, delivering an engaging experience which keeps this 125-year-old, iconic Scottish brand front of mind.”

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 Aberlour, Speyside in the Scottish Highlands – has been baking shortbread for the past 125 years and has witnessed increased appetite for its products in travel retail, as tourists reach for products rooted in history and cultural heritage.

Walker’s latest GTR range, launched in March 2022, has been a catalyst for growth in the channel with products now sold in more than 30 markets globally.

It experienced demand both in the UK and overseas as people purchased shortbread as a gift or treat, with self-purchasing on the rise from 46% pre-pandemic to 53% in the first quarter of 2023 [1].

According to recent research [2], 40% of people say they are 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 have had a more authentic travel experience.

Walker’s Shortbread still independent after 125 years

Walker’s Shortbread was established 125 years ago and is still an independent family company today.

It is headed by the founder’s great-grandchildren and has won the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement four times. Walker’s exports its products to around 100 countries worldwide.

In 2017, Walker’s Shortbread was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment from Her Majesty the Queen for the supply of shortbread to the Royal Household.

Lady taking picture of Walker's Shortbread pop-up at Edinburgh Airport.

Sales of Walker’s Shortbread in airports and train stations have risen by 150% in the past year.

This followed the granting of the Royal Warrant of Appointment by the Queen and Queen Mother in 2002 for oatcakes.

[1] 2023 insights from travel retail research agency, m1nd-set.

[2] Research by Tesco Mobile and conducted by OnePoll. The survey was completed by 2,000 respondents across the UK, during June, 2023.

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