Imperial Tobacco sparks up corporate brand review

Imperial Tobacco Group, the world’s fourth largest tobacco company, is understood to be reviewing its corporate brand identity at a time when it is seeking to grow its global operations and execute further acquisitions.

Imperial Tobacco manufactures international brands such as Lambert & Butler, Richmond, Embassy, Regal, Superkings, Drum and Davidoff. It also produces Rizla rolling papers.

The company has held talks with a number of key design consultancies to discuss the design of its corporate identity.

The project is reportedly at the early stages and just how far the company will look to evolve its identity, which features an Imperial Tobacco logotype and logo, is not yet clear. A formal pitch process is not yet thought to be in place.

‘We are constantly reviewing our consultancy requirements across our business,’ says a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco.

The move to invest in the company’s identity comes as Imperial Tobacco chief executive, Gareth Davis, pledges to ‘continue to apply our strategy of growing our operations, both organically and through acquisitions’.

Imperial Tobacco has ploughed £4.2bn into global acquisitions over the past eight years and further deals – such as the £6m acquisition for a 43 per cent stake in the Swedish producer Skruf this year – are on the table, with plans afoot to merge Imperial Tobacco’s merchandising division in Russia, with Franco-Spanish cigarette producer Altadis, by early next year. The move is reportedly aimed at increasing efficiency and cutting costs.

In general, acquisitions of this kind can have implications for the overall look of a tobacco company’s corporate identity.

In its latest full year financial statement, Imperial Tobacco announced annual profits rose by 11 per cent, while operating profit rose by 24 per cent. The UK cigarette market was down by around 4 per cent to 51bn cigarettes. According to Imperial Tobacco, Lambert & Butler maintained its 16 per cent market share, while Richmond grew its share to 14.7 per cent. The combined brand families accounted for over 30 per cent of the UK market in 2005.

Imperial Tobacco Acquisitions

Imperial Tobacco has spent £4.2bn on acquisitions since 1997

2005 Acquires 43 per cent stake of Swedish company Skruf, with commitment to buy balance by mid-2009

2004 Acquires filter tubes manufacturer CTC Tube Company of Canada

2002 Acquires German-based international tobacco company Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken

2001 Acquires majority of Tobaccor, the second largest cigarette manufacturer distributor in Sub-Saharan Africa, with expanding business interests in Vietnam

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