Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco
Imperial Tobacco Group plc
Type Public limited company
Traded as LSEIMT
Industry Tobacco
Founded 1901
Headquarters Bristol, United Kingdom
Key people Iain Napier (Chairman)
Alison Cooper (CEO)
Products Cigarettes, cigars, fine-cut rolling tobacco, snuff, rolling papers and tubes
Revenue £28,173 million (2010)[1]
Operating income £2,528 million (2010)[1]
Net income £1,522 million (2010)[1]
Employees 38,000 (2010)[2]
Subsidiaries Djarum

Imperial Tobacco (officially Imperial Tobacco Group plc) (LSEIMT) is a global tobacco company headquartered in Bristol, United Kingdom. It is the world’s fourth-largest 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.[2][3] It produces over 320 billion cigarettes per year, has 51 factories worldwide and its products are sold in over 160 countries.[2] Its brands include Davidoff, West, Gauloises Blondes, Montecristo, Drum (the world's second-largest-selling fine-cut tobacco) and Rizla (the world’s best-selling rolling paper).[2][4]

Imperial Tobacco is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.



2 ounces (57 g) tin for Player's "No Name" tobacco
2 ounces (57 g) tin for J&F Bell "Three Nuns" tobacco

20th century

The Imperial Tobacco Company was created in 1901 through the amalgamation of thirteen 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 being threatened by competition from the United States in the form of James Buchanan Duke and his American Tobacco Company.[5] 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, J&F Bell and F&J Smith joined in the amalgamation. The Company's first Chairman was William Henry Wills of the Wills Company.[5]

In 1902 the Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company agreed to form a joint venture: the British-American Tobacco Company Ltd.[5] 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. American Tobacco sold its share in 1911 but Imperial maintained an interest in British American Tobacco until 1980.[5] 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.[6]

In 1985, the Company acquired the Peoples Drugstore chain and all subsidiaries from A. C. Israel.[7] In 1986 the Company was acquired by the conglomerate Hanson Trust plc for £2.5billion.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

21st century

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.[11] 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.[12] In February 2008, Imperial acquired the world's then fifth largest tobacco company Altadis whose brands included Fortuna, Gauloises Blondes and Gitanes.[13]

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.[14]


Imperial Tobacco brands include:


Other products

Senior management

Imperial Tobacco's Operating Executive currently comprises the following people:[15]

Alison Cooper – Chief Executive
Robert Dyrbus – Group Finance Director
Helen Clatworthy – Group Supply Chain Director
Fernando Domínguez – Premium Cigar Director
Roberto Funari – Group Marketing Director
Matthew Phillips – Group Corporate & Legal Affairs Director
Walter Prinz – Group Manufacturing, Research & Development Director
Kathryn Turner – Group Human Resources Director
Arthur van Benthem – Group Sales Director


External links

Factory 1b.svg Companies portal

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