Imperial stockpiles cigarettes in UK to head off Brexit shortages
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.