Benson & Hedges owner boosts Irish profit to €34m

JTI Ireland grew profit while sales fell marginally to €702m

Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges remained JTI Ireland’s biggest brands with a market share of 22.4 per cent and 15.8 per cent respectively. Photograph: iStock

Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges remained JTI Ireland’s biggest brands with a market share of 22.4 per cent and 15.8 per cent respectively. Photograph: iStock

 

Japan Tobacco International increased its profit in Ireland by more than €14 million last year after making a substantial reduction in costs following the final closure of its last manufacturing plant in Ireland, newly filed accounts show.

Profit before tax at the local arm of the global tobacco giant increased almost 73 per cent to €34 million while turnover dipped just shy of 1 per cent to €702 million.

Japan Tobacco in Ireland controls more than half the Irish tobacco market though brands such as Benson & Hedges, Silk Cut and Camel. It is also the largest single player in the nascent vaping sector, claiming more than a quarter of the Irish market by value.

“We have invested significantly in our reduced risk products in recent years and this is delivering positive results as adult smokers look for alternatives to cigarettes. We expect that this category will grow further in the years ahead, while there will also be continued demand for tobacco products,” a spokesman told The Irish Times.

The overall cigarette market in the Republic fell by 5.6 per cent while the company’s share of the market dipped 0.7 per cent, the directors said.

Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges remained the portfolio’s biggest brands with a market share of 22.4 per cent and 15.8 per cent respectively.

Market position

“At the same time Mayfair and Amber Leaf strengthened our market position,” the directors added.

JTI Ireland, contrary to recent trends in the Irish tobacco industry, added employees in the year, bringing its headcount up to 91. However, with contract workers the company employs more than 100 people.

The company didn’t pay a dividend in 2016 having paid €150 million to its parent the previous year.

JTI was the last manufacturer of cigarettes on this island. It entered the Irish market with the acquisition in 2007 of the Gallahers tobacco business.

In 2015 it announced plans to make 800 workers in its Ballymena cigarette factory – the last tobacco manufacturing plant in the country – redundant. The closure of the Lisnafillan site completed in early 2017 with cigarette production moving to Poland and Romania.

Their decision coincided with the introduction of plain packaging, something the Irish subsidiary had lobbied against and challenged in the courts.

JTI Ireland’s ultimate parent company is the Japan incorporated Japan Tobacco Inc.