|Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: IMT
|Headquarters||Bristol, United Kingdom|
|Iain Napier (Chairman)
Alison Cooper (CEO)
|Products||Cigarettes, cigars, fine-cut rolling tobacco, snuff, rolling papers and tubes|
|Revenue||£26.625 billion (2014)|
|£2.064 billion (2014)|
|£1.451 billion (2014)|
Number of employees
Imperial Tobacco Group plc is a British multinational tobacco company headquartered in Bristol, United Kingdom. It is the world’s fourth-largest international cigarette company measured by market share after Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco, and the world's largest producer of cigars, fine-cut tobacco, and tobacco papers.
Imperial Tobacco produces over 320 billion cigarettes per year, has 51 factories worldwide, and its products are sold in over 160 countries. Its brands include Davidoff, West, Gauloises Blondes, Montecristo, Golden Virginia (the world's largest-selling hand rolling tobacco), Drum (the world's second-largest-selling fine-cut tobacco), and Rizla (the world’s best-selling rolling paper).
Imperial Tobacco is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It had a market capitalisation around £24.3 billion as of 23 December 2011, the 19th-largest of any company with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange.
1901 to 2000
The Imperial Tobacco Company was created in 1901 through the amalgamation of 13 British tobacco and cigarette companies: W.D. & H.O. Wills of Bristol (the leading manufacturer of tobacco-based products at that time), John Player & Sons of Nottingham, and 11 other independent family businesses, which were in competition with companies from the United States by the American Tobacco Company. First W. D. & H. O. Wills of Bristol merged with Stephen Mitchell & Son of Glasgow. Subsequently, other smaller companies including Lambert & Butler, William Clarke & Son, Franklyn Davey, Edwards Ringer & Bigg, Hignett Brothers, Hignett's Tobacco, Adkins & Sons, Richmond Cavendish, D&J MacDoland, and F&J Smith joined in the amalgamation. In 1904, James & Finlay Bell Ltd merged with Stephen Mitchell & Son. The Company's first chairman was William Henry Wills of the Wills Company.
In 1902, the Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company agreed to form a joint venture: the British-American Tobacco Company Ltd. The parent companies agreed not to trade in each other's domestic territory and to assign trademarks, export businesses, and overseas subsidiaries to the joint venture. It built the Imperial Tobacco Company Building at Mullins, South Carolina, between 1908 and 1913. American Tobacco sold its share in 1911, but Imperial maintained an interest in British American Tobacco until 1980. In 1973, the Imperial Tobacco Company, having become increasingly diversified by acquisition of (amongst others) restaurant chains, food services and distribution businesses, changed its name to Imperial Group.
In 1910, Imperial Tobacco formed the Imperial Tobacco Company of India.
In 1985, the company acquired the Peoples Drugstore chain and all subsidiaries from A. C. Israel. In 1986 the Company was acquired by the conglomerate Hanson Trust plc for £2.5billion. Divestments during the period of ownership by Hanson included Courage Brewery to Elders, Golden Wonder to Dalgety, Finlays to A J Patel, the wholesaling arm of Sinclair & Collis to Palmer & Harvey, Imperial Hotels and Catering to Trust House Forte and Ross Frozen Foods to United Biscuits. This also led to a dispute over pension payments to employees, as seen in Imperial Group Pension Trust Ltd v Imperial Tobacco Ltd. In 1996, following a decision to concentrate on core tobacco activities, Hanson de-merged Imperial and it was listed as an independent company on the UK stock exchange.
2000 to present
In 2003, Imperial acquired the world's then fourth-largest tobacco company, Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH of Germany: the deal added brands such as Davidoff, Peter Stuyvesant, and West to its portfolio. In 2007, Imperial Tobacco entered the United States tobacco market with its $1.9-billion acquisition of Commonwealth Brands Inc, then the fourth-largest tobacco company in the US. In February 2008, Imperial acquired the world's then fifth-largest tobacco company, Altadis, whose brands included Fortuna, Gauloises Blondes, and Gitanes. A number of factory closures were subsequently announced, including the long-running cigar factory in Bristol.
Following the Scottish Parliament's decision in January 2010 to ban the display of tobacco products in shops, as well as the availability of tobacco vending machines in public buildings with effect from autumn 2011, Imperial Tobacco attempted to challenge the change in the law on the grounds that regulations of the sale goods rested with the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. However, this case was dismissed on 30 September 2010 by Lord Bracadale at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
In 2011, Altadis USA Inc. said it would add to its Fort Lauderdale, Florida, headquarters and move Commonwealth Brands Inc. employees from Bowling Green, Kentucky. The company's name changed to Commonwealth-Altadis Inc.
In 2013, Imperial opened a new global headquarters in Bristol.
On 15 July 2014, Reynolds American agreed to buy Greensboro, North Carolina-based Lorillard Tobacco Company, for $27.4 billion. The deal also included the sale of the Kool, Winston, Salem, and blu eCigs brands to Imperial for $7.1 billion. Once the deal is completed, Imperial said on 22 October 2014, the current Lorillard headquarters will be used by a new company. In addition to Lorillard employees, the headquarters will include people being relocated from Commonwealth-Altadis in Fort Lauderdale. Commonwealth-Altadis also has the former American Tobacco plant in Reidsville, North Carolina, which makes discount cigarettes. In November 2014, Imperial said Commonwealth-Altadis and the Lorillard operations being acquired would be called ITG Brands LLC.
The deal with Lorillard was completed on 12 June 2015. Most Greensboro employees not hired by Reynolds would stay with ITG. On 15 June, ITG Brands began the process of merging operations, and a WARN Act notice stated about 150 of 215 jobs would be lost in Fort Lauderdale. Some Commonwealth-Altadis employees would move to Greensboro, some would work for the parent company, and about 20 would stay in Fort Lauderdale with the premium cigar operation. A legal notice filed July 29, 2015 said that Reynolds must get a county permit to make Newports at its Tobaccoville plant, so for 18 months ITG will make Newports and Reynolds will make the three brands it sold.
On 15 December 2015, Imperial said it would change its name to Imperial Brands because of the company's other businesses. The change of name was effective on Monday, 8 February 2016.
Imperial Tobacco brands include:
- All JTI products in Australia – Camel, More, Mevius, etc.
- Escort (British American Tobacco's old products)
- John Player & Sons
- John Player Best
- Lambert & Butler (because Imperial Tobacco does not own the trademark on the original name, Lambert & Butler is known in some countries as L&B or Great & British)
- Mark Fernyhough
- Parker & Simpson
- Peter Stuyvesant (with British American Tobacco)
- Rodeo (in Macedonia)
- Route 66
- USA GOLD
- Bali Shag premium fine-cut tobacco
- Drum fine-cut tobacco
- Golden Virginia fine-cut tobacco
- Players Gold Leaf fine-cut tobacco
- Champion Legendary Ruby fine-cut tobacco
- RizLa+ rolling paper
- Tally-Ho rolling paper
- Skruf Snus
- Van Nelle fine-cut tobacco
Imperial Tobacco's chairman is Mark Williamson. The company's operating executive currently comprises the following:
- Alison Cooper – Chief Executive
- Arthur van Bentham – Group Sales Director
- Helen Clatworthy – Business Transformation Director
- Peter Corijn – Group Marketing Director
- Fernando Dominguez – Premium Cigar Director
- Andy Newall – Group Human Resources Director
- Matthew Phillips – Corporate Affairs Director
- Walter Prinz – Group Manufacturing, Supply and Research & Development Director
- Oliver Tant – Chief Financial Officer
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- Reynolds American to Buy Lorillard in $27.4 Billion Tobacco Deal
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