BAT volumes dip as slump takes its toll

BRITISH American Tobacco, the world’s second-largest cigarette maker, posted a bigger than expected three per cent fall in underlying nine-month volumes and said the recession’s impact on smokers showed no sign of abating.

The maker of Kent, Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall cigarette brands said yesterday that although sales volumes dipped, revenue showed good growth helped by price rises, the weak pound and the purchase of PT Bentoel in Indonesia in June 2009, and it still saw a year of good earnings growth for 2010. The London-based group said the volume decline was due to recent flooding in Pakistan, a rise in illegal trade in countries including Turkey and South Africa as well as tough trading conditions in Germany.

“The challenging economic conditions, excise driven price increases and high unemployment have led to some softening of our volumes. The recession’s impact on consumers shows no signs of abating,” said chief executive Paul Adams.