Gallaher maintains lead in the tobacco market

INTERNATIONAL cigarette maker Gallaher Group has maintained its market leader position in Ireland, this year, with a 49.1% share of the tobacco sector.

Despite this being the first full year of the smoking ban, the total cigarette market in the Republic increased by 1.3%. This was partly assisted by the phasing of trade sales ahead of price increases.

Gallaher's performance was mainly driven by a strong showing of its Benson & Hedges brand. The company's main brands also include Silk Cut, Mayfair and Sovereign.

In the British market, Gallaher's overall market share remained stable at 38.6% for the first 10 months of this year with both the Mayfair and Benson & Hedges Silver brands increasing their shares to 13.2% and 2% respectively.

The group also enjoyed a rise in its share of Britain's value cigarette sector over the same period to a record high of 36.1%. Its share of the premium cigarette sector was also stable at 45.2% and the company maintained its lead of the British cigar market which declined by around 7% with a 46.2% share.

Gallaher's which was established in Derry in the 1800s and has since moved through American ownership before de-merging and going public in the late 1990s has marketed itself as an international player in recent times.

A tough trading environment in continental Europe during the second half of this year however, has seen the company's European cigarette volume sales decline by 5.6% to €35.2 billion over the first 10 months of the year.

However, in its pre-close trading statement issued yesterday, Gallaher claims that it has advanced its positions in central and Eastern

Europe and has seen market volumes increase across EU accession states and the Balkan region.

Full-year performance for the Europe division remains in line with expectations, and improvements in the company's distribution division should offset challenging conditions across the continent.

The company is currently ranked as the fifth largest tobacco business in the world and the fourth largest on a European scale.

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