The local manufacturer of Fine cigarettes has severed ties with UK-based tobacco giant Imperial Tobacco, a company official said yesterday, while declining to shed light on the end of a three-year business relationship.
Fine cigarettes, which are owned by Imperial Tobacco and sold and distributed by its wholly owned local subsidiary Huotraco International Ltd, confirmed the announcement by Usine de Tabac du Cambodge (UTC) that it was no longer a manufacturer of the product. Manufacturing will now be fully handled by Imperial Tobacco.
Guillaume Dubois, market manager for Huotraco, said that the end of the partnership with UTC would not hamper the brand name or disrupt availability of the product.
“This will not affect the quality level of Fine cigarettes in Cambodia,” he said, noting that Imperial Tobacco, which is the fourth-largest tobacco company in the world, had a sizeable market share in the Kingdom.
“Fine King Size cigarettes is the number one cigarette brand in Cambodia and has been for many years,” he said. “[Imperial] will continue to operate in Cambodia as before and there is no change in our strategy to continue to invest in Cambodia to develop our brands.”
Huotraco also distributes other Imperial tobacco products such as Gauloises, Davidoff, West, Gitanes, L&B, Rizla and Drum.
The tobacco industry has faced significant regulatory changes recently including the sub-decree that came into effect last July mandating that all cigarette packaging must have pictorial health warnings. Despite the legislation, Dubois said it has not harmed profitability.
“Whilst Huotraco International Ltd has strictly complied with the Ministry of Health instructions to replace all its packaging by the deadline of September 2016, as many members of the public have observed, most other tobacco players have yet to fully enforce this regulation,” he said.
“As a consequence, the impact of such a change is still limited on the market.”UTC could not be reached for comment yesterday.