Former Rangers and Hearts goalkeeper Nicky Walker has been named managing director of his family’s Walker’s Shortbread business.

He takes over the role from his late father Joe, who died in October and who together with his brother Jim transformed a Moray bakery into an international brand. He first joined the family business 25 years ago following a professional football career spanning the 1980s and 1990s, including two international caps.

“It is an enormous honour to be given this responsibility to lead the family business,” said Mr Walker, who was appointed to the board in 2007 as production director.

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“As joint managing directors, my father and my Uncle James transformed what was a village bakery into an internationally-renowned business and brand. Working with other members of the fourth generation and an outstanding board and management team, I am confident we will achieve great success together.”

Jim Walker is stepping aside from his day-to-day responsibilities but will continue as a director of the business. His daughter Bryony Walker has been appointed to the company’s executive committee as head of commercial strategy, reporting to commercial director Steve McCarney.

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Jim Walker said: “I am delighted that my nephew Nicky is taking on the position of managing director. His late father and I shared this role for almost sixty years, working closely with our sister Marjorie and it is very rewarding to be passing the reins to the next generation who are ably supported by a fantastic board and professional management team.”

Chairman Bob Brannan said the change of leadership marked the start of "exciting times" for the business.

“With a clear vision, focused strategy and a strengthened executive committee, Walker’s is a great example of how an international brand can thrive under consistent, long-term, family-ownership."