News Column

Russian smoking ban filters profits

August 20, 2014

Jennifer Rankin

Imperial Tobacco, the world's fourth-largest cigarette company, has been hit by a smoking ban in Russia and unrest in the Middle East.

The maker of Davidoff and Gauloises cigarettes said tough conditions in a number of its key markets had hurt its sales. It highlighted "a significant deterioration in the Russian market and the impact of the turbulent situation in the Middle East".

Russians are among the heaviest smokers in the world but the government has been clamping down on the habit. A ban on smoking in bars and restaurants came into force in June, as did restrictions on selling cigarettes at street kiosks. In the Middle East, Imperial's suppliers have struggled to deliver cigarettes in Iraq and Syria.

The company said its markets were shrinking by about 4% a year, although some of its bestselling brands continued to grow. Total sales continued to fall in Europe but it had seen "a modest deceleration in the rate of market decline in parts of Europe".

Imperial, which was hit by adverse swings in foreign exchange rates, reported a 1% fall in revenue to pounds 4.8bn for the nine months to the end of June.

Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters/Corbis

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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