Shortbread brand Walkers continued to blaze a tartan trail through the market last year.

A look at our Top 50 table reveals that sales of its products have risen by more than £8m since 2004, shooting the company up three rungs to 20th place.

Like most of the other companies in our Top 50 list that are showing growth, the UK's largest independent biscuit baker has been focusing heavily on innovation and new product development over the past 12 months, and says that it is a combination of these new range successes, coupled with a buoyant export market, that has contributed heavily to its impressive sales performance.

Impressive sales figures aside, the company says it is still concerned about the incessant energy hikes and, recently, the cost increase for wheat flour.

However, it remains reasonably

relaxed about the great health debate, thanks to shortbread's status as an indulgence product, and it

continues to focus on the premium end of the market. "We are keen to keep on promoting the natural Scottish goodness of our products," says Ian Gibson, Walkers' general manager for UK sales.

"Quality is and always has been our goal, and we only use the finest, most natural ingredients in our biscuits - flour, butter, sugar and just a little bit of salt."

Walkers Shortbread has no plans to launch any more new products on to the biscuit market this year, but says that it will be focusing its efforts on packaging redesigns for its existing products. n