The history of Walker’s traces back to the 1880s, when Henry Walker started a meat shop in Leicester in the Midlands before moving to Cheapside. During World War II, meat became very scarce, so Walker started making potato chips in 1948 to supplement the business. After encountering success, Walker decided to continue with his chip business. The company became a large industry by the end of the 1980s when Nabisco acquired Walkers. A French company bought Walkers from Nabisco in 1989.The same year, PepsiCo, Inc. bought Walkers and Smiths from the French company. The companies merged in March 1993, and began operating under the name Walkers Smiths Snack Foods.
After that, PepsiCo, Inc. started introducing its U.S. brands, such as Cheetos and Ruffles, in the UK. These brands did not become very popular, so the company introduced a new brand of Walkers called Crinkles. In 1994, Doritos were introduced and a new manufacturing plant was also built in Coventry. The company introduced salsa dips during the same period. The company started making new attempts to maintain the freshness of potato chips. Thus, nitrogen filled bags were introduced in 1996.
In September 1998, Martin Glenn became the CEO of the company. By 1998, sales reached £410 million. It started using the logo of Frito-Lay in 1998. To promote its products further, the company also initiated a television advertising campaign. Over the next few years, more flavors were introduced, and the manufacturing facilities were improved. In 1999, it acquired Max, which produced ridged potato chips. More flavors came into the market such as Screaming Salt and Vinegar, Hard Cheese and Onion, and Punching Paprika.
The business was expanded to Ireland in 2000. The Ireland division had 3,000 employees and the company started reaping profits. In 2002, a new brand, Sensations, was introduced. More flavors of the brand started reaching the supermarket shelves. In 2003, Great British Takeaways crisps were introduced. By 2004, sales peaked to £600 million. A huge warehouse was also built in Durham. More favors of Sensations were also introduced.
Company headquarters: 1600 Arlington Business Park, Theale, Reading, Berkshire, UK
Ownership: Private Subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc.
Annual revenue: £600 million
Number of employees: 4,000
Geography: UK and Republic of Ireland
Demography: Young, Natural and Organic