Im­pe­rial stock­piles cig­a­rettes in UK to head off Brexit short­ages

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Oliver Gill

ONE of the world’s big­gest to­bacco com­pa­nies is stock­pil­ing £30m of cig­a­rettes amid con­cerns that Brexit may lead to UK short­ages.

Im­pe­rial Brands, which sells Lam­bert & But­ler and Golden Vir­ginia, con­firmed it was build­ing up UK re­serves to mit­i­gate pos­si­ble sup­ply dis­rup­tions.

The com­ments by Oliver Tant, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, came as Im­pe­rial Brands posted a 1pc rise in full-year rev­enue to £30.5bn, while profit be­fore tax fell 2pc to £1.8bn.

The FTSE 100 com­pany’s div­i­dend rose by 10pc for the 10th year in a row.

To­bacco stocks have suf­fered sub­stan­tial losses dur­ing 2018 amid con­cerns over the growth of va­p­ing and the threat posed by non-tra­di­tional op­er­a­tors such as Juul, the e-cig­a­rette spe­cial­ist.

Juul claims a 70pc share of the US e-cig­a­rette mar­ket and has re­cently turned its at­ten­tion on the UK, strik- ing a land­mark deal with Sains­bury’s last week.

Ali­son Cooper, CEO of Im­pe­rial Brands, played down any threat from Juul and said her com­pany’s va­p­ing prod­uct, Blu, was “the most prom­i­nent brand” in the US.

Im­pe­rial hopes to turn a profit next year from its next-gen­er­a­tion prod­ucts, and is fo­cus­ing on mov­ing smok­ers on to Blu. It also has de­signs on the heated-to­bacco mar­ket in Ja­pan.

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