As e-cigarette sales heat up, British American Tobacco shakes up its corporate structure and adds a chief operating officer

Courtney Goldsmith
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BAT's cigarette volumes fell in the first half of the year (Source: Getty)

British American Tobacco (BAT) has created a new role of chief operating officer as it shakes up its corporate structure to bring its increasingly popular e-cigarette unit into its main business.

Following BAT's acquisition of US rival Reynolds American for $49.4bn earlier this year, the firm is working to simplify its regional structure. Now, its next-generation products (NGP) business, which makes e-cigarettes and tobacco heating products, will sit in the core operations of the group.

Jack Bowles, regional director of Asia-Pacific, will be the new chief operating officer for BAT's international business, excluding the US, from 1 October. In addition, the firm has restructured its regional roles and shifted its employees accordingly.

The tobacco giant, which makes Lucky Strike and Pall Mall cigarettes, said the move reflects the "outstanding growth" of this part of its business, as well as its long-term importance to the group's future.

"Now that we have built a successful NGP business which is poised for substantial growth, we will be fully integrating NGP into our existing business infrastructure across the group - both within the functions and the regions - to leverage the scale and expertise of the whole group to drive growth in an area that is fast becoming a key part of our mainstream business," said Kingsley Wheaton, managing director of next generation products.

Smoker numbers dwindle

While the number of smokers has dwindled in recent years, e-cigarette use is on the up.

In July BAT said cigarette volumes had gone up in smoke in the first six months of the year, falling 5.6 per cent from the previous year, but it said its Glo tobacco heating device had performed above expectations in several launch markets.

"This new structure will enable better, more integrated resource allocation and decision making across geographies and categories. It creates a truly global multi category business, with NGPs embedded at its heart, to drive continued long term success," BAT said.

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