WALKERS Shortbread magnate Jim Walker has hit back at those saying they would avoid the company products for using Union Flag branding saying such boycotts are "killing Scottish jobs".

Joint managing director Jim Walker of the 120-year-old Moray-based family firm said he is "not ashamed" to use Union Flag branding on what he described as a niche novelty products sold in London and abroad as gift items and insisted he and the company are "proud to be Scottish".

The 73-year-old executive spoke out against those who are "mis-calling" his company as some discovered the producer of oatcakes, cakes and biscuits which sells products in over 60 countries uses the UK flag in some exports of shortbread abroad.


The shortbread comes in a Union Flag tin with a splash of tartan on the Walkers' label. The biscuit is also shaped into a Union Flag.

The new debate over how Scottish products are marketed abroad was sparked by a Facebook post published on Sunday featuring a Walkers shortbread display that included the Union Flag tins and went viral having been shared more than 900 times and provoked over 300 comments in less than a day.

READ MORE: Complaints over Walkers' shortbread sold under a Union Flag

Some took to complaining directly to Walkers, one of the Scotland's biggest exporters and one of the Highlands' biggest employers, through their Facebook page. Some spoke of boycotting the products with one comment from Rory Winter describing the firm as "traitors to Scotland". Others have rushed to the Walkers' defence saying the criticism was narrow-minded.


Mr Walker said the response from some was "disappointing" and "sad" and criticised "misinformation" that had indicated that they held a board meeting to get rid of the Union Jacks from products being sold abroad.

Mr Walker said the Union Flag tins were originally created for the 2012 London Olympics for those who wanted a suitable memento and have since been sold as a part of its 30 product gift range in London and abroad which were mostly draped in tartan.

"We have to make products that are suitable for different markets, occasions and events. We have made products for America with the Statue of Liberty on it, products for Australia and Middle East, and the Union Jack tin has caused all the angst.

"We make special products for special markets so I don't need to be ashamed to make something for a market and especially for the Olympics, when it was a British team.


The post that was the catalyst for the row.  Mr Walker pointed out that the Union Flag shortbread boxes are alongside others covered in tartan

"By making what people want we have been able to develop the business and more than 600 are employed because of the success of our exports business. "I think the reason why we have had some success is because we are prepared to make what the customer is looking for and to meet the needs of the market and in doing so it is creating jobs.

"When someone is saying, don't buy Scottish products, isn't it just killing Scottish jobs."

It is not just Walkers that have been targeted for flying the British flag abroad.


Two years ago protesters descended on Scotland's most famous confectionary firm, Tunnock's following reports that the biscuit maker had added the Union Flag to branding for its exported products.

READ MORE: Complaints over Walkers' shortbread sold under a Union Flag

Other products that some have taken offence to being branded as British include haggis, whisky and even the famous painting the Monarch of the Glen.


In October a #ScotlandThe Brand campaign was started to protest against the increasing number of Union flags that have replaced the Saltire on Scottish produce.

Mr Walker added: "We are absolutely proud of Scotland. We are very very patriotic and Scottish through and through. "We are an international company. Most of our sales are made outside Scotland.

"And we are a family company. We are born and bred in Scotland and we have had a family business here in Aberlour for 120 years, started with my grandfather, and now my kids are in it and my brother's kids are in it.

"We have an incredibly dedicated, loyal workforce. With many of our staff, their grandfathers have worked for my grandfather. There are whole families working in this company and we are absolutely committed to Scotland.

"I am not aware of any company that has made more of an effort to try to 'say Scotland' in their products than we have.

"I am as passionate about selling Scotland as I am about selling shortbread. It is disappointing. It's sad to see the attitude when you spent your life promoting Scotland."

READ MORE: Complaints over Walkers' shortbread sold under a Union Flag

Walkers, which employs around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, has previously expressed fear the Brexit vote could prompt some of the overseas workers his family’s company relies on to leave the country .