Joblessness takes its toll on BAT sales

City A.M. Reporter
BRITISHAmerican Tobacco, the cigarette giant behind the Dunhill and Lucky Strike brands, yesterday revealed that its sales volumes&nbsp; had dropped for the first time in two years, hit by downturns in key territories.<br /><br />BAT said volumes had fallen in Japan, Russia, Brazil, Italy and South Africa, taking volumes overall for the group down three per cent in the nine month trading period.<br /><br />Chief executive Paul Adams said: &ldquo;Our consumers are clearly finding the current economic conditions difficult, as unemployment continues to rise.&rdquo; <br /><br />Total sales volumes for the group climbed two per cent if new acquisitions are counted in the figures.<br /><br />&ldquo;Group revenue for the nine months grew strongly, driven by the continued good pricing momentum and volume growth from the acquisitions made in the middle of last year,&rdquo; BAT said.<br /><br />It added that sales were also boosted by the more recent acquisition of an 85 per cent stake in the Indonesian group Bentoel in June. BAT paid &pound;303m for the first 85 per cent of the group, recently adding a further 14 per cent shareholding for &pound;52m.<br /><br />BAT earlier this week announced plans to close a factory in Denmark in 2011 with the loss of 466 jobs, citing falling demand and high costs.<br /><br />The company&rsquo;s Danish subsidiary, BAT Denmark, said it would shut the site in Soeborg, northern Denmark -- which produces 12bn cigarettes a year -- and shift its production to other sites in Europe.