With the tobacco, vaping and next gen markets evolving rapidly, JTI is seeking to innovate to keep providing top service to all its trade partners.

This is why the company has appointed Business Advisers, the biggest change to its sales force JTI has made in 20 years.

The Business Advisers are total category experts, providing support on everything from what to stock to responsible retailing.

Ross Hennessy, Sales Vice President JTI UK, tells Wholesale Manager what trends are driving the tobacco, vaping and next generation markets.

What is your background? How long have you been at JTI and where did you work before that?

I have worked for JTI for just over 18 years, joining not long after graduating from university in Dublin. I joined the Irish market in 2004 as a Sales Rep and spent 6 years there working across a variety of different Sales roles. I then spent 3 years in JTI’s Global Headquarters in Geneva, followed by 3 years in Taiwan. I moved to the UK in 2016, spending the first 2 years as Marketing & Sales Director for Sub-Saharan Africa. I have been the Sales VP for the UK since mid-2018.

Tell us about your role as Sales Vice President at JTI. What is a typical day for you?

The role is quite varied, and no two days are the same! I am involved in a variety of topics when I am in the office such as pricing, account updates, field sales updates and board meetings to set the overall strategic direction of the company. I also spend a significant amount of time in the trade meeting customers across all trading channels with our Business Advisers and Account Managers. I believe this is fundamental to truly understand how we can be a best in class as a Sales department.

Can you tell us more about the new JTI Business Adviser role?

The industry is moving forward at a rapid pace and as a business we are always looking at ways we can innovate to help us to continue delivering world class service to all of our trade partners. The transition to Business Advisers is the biggest change that JTI has made in the last 20 years and has been in planning for over two years to ensure that the move is as seamless as possible for our customers.

Our highly skilled salesforce has always operated at an industry high level, but we have taken the time to upskill our JTI Business Advisers to a superior standard. They are total category experts. Whether it’s advice on what JTI products to stock across tobacco, vaping and next gen products to maximise sales, information on responsible retailing such as Youth Access Prevention and how to tackle illicit tobacco, or sustainability- they are on hand to assist trade partners every step of the way.

What does this move mean for retailers, will anything change for them and how does it benefit their business?

It’s really important for us to be able to offer dedicated advice to our trade partners, so the new JTI Business Advisers will be allocated smaller, dedicated catchment areas where they will be responsible for every trading channel within it – from Independent to Key Multiple Grocers and Wholesale. This will enable JTI to increase its speed, agility, and efficiency in the field. It will also allow the JTI Business Advisers to provide a more bespoke, personal service so they can identify commercial opportunities with their trade partners to an even greater extent.

What trends are driving the market?

As many retailers are aware, existing adult smokers and vapers today aren’t looking for a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, there is a real demand for convenience and the option to have different products to suit different occasions and preferences.

The 100% nicotine free pouch category continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down. We are leading the way with our Nordic Spirit brand, which is currently the UK’s number one nicotine pouch brandi, it offers an alternative product for customers without producing smoke, vapour or odour, allowing it to be used when smoking or vaping might not be possible.

Nordic Spirit offers three strengths depending on what flavour the customer chooses. Mint is available in Regular, Strong and Extra Strong across convenience outlets in the UK, whilst Bergamot Wildberry and Elderflower are available in Regular or Strong.

JTI has recently expanded its Nordic Spirit range, with a new flavour, Spearmint, and a new Extra-Strong variant of its popular Bergamot Wildberry fruit flavour which joins the existing Regular and Strong offering. The new launches are both available in an Extra-Strong strength to reflect the growing demand for stronger variants in the nicotine pouch category. With Strong and Extra-Strong now making up 72.6% of nicotine pouch sales, and Extra-Strong the fastest growing strengthii, the latest variants will help retailers provide a range of options for consumers seeking stronger variants.

Heated tobacco devices also offer existing adult smokers an alternative but familiar tobacco experience by heating tobacco instead of burning it. The Ploom device is available online at www.ploom.co.uk and through Accredited Retailers across London.iii The device can be used exclusively with EVO tobacco sticks which are available for all London retailers within the M25.

How big is the non-duty paid market in the UK and what is JTI doing to combat the illicit trade?

Illicit tobacco continues to be a serious issue for law enforcement, retailers, suppliers and communities across the UK. HMRC estimates that the total cost of tobacco smuggling, in terms of lost tax revenue, is close to £49bn since 2000.iv This includes £2.3bn in 2019/20, with 9% of cigarettes and 34% of roll your own (RYO) in the country coming from illegal sources.

While cheap illegal tobacco products may appear a bargain to some smokers, it is underpinned by criminal organisations and this illicit trade undercuts local businesses, as law-abiding local retailers lose sales and footfall in their stores.

At JTI, we take illicit tobacco very seriously and are committed to supporting retailers and providing them with the tools they need to communicate the dangers of the illicit tobacco trade to their customers. Our “Don’t Be Complicit in Illicit” campaign and dedicated microsite, features a host of useful articles and advice, and aims to helps retailers join the fight against illicit tobacco in their area by providing them with more information on the scale of the issue.

How has the 50g RYO format of Sterling Essential Rolling Tobacco been performing since its launch last November?

So far, the larger Sterling Essential Rolling Tobacco format is performing well and sits in a category which is growing at 7.4% year on year,vi and generating sales of £3.9 billion a year.vii Sterling Rolling is the UK’s second fastest growing RYO brand,viii showing that the demand for value tobacco continues.

Do you have any new launches/products to talk about?

We continue to innovate across the category and recently reimagined the EVO tobacco sticks, featuring a longer filter to achieve a smoother, real tobacco taste.

With an RRP of £4.50*, they offer a variety of enhanced flavours ranging from tobacco, for true tobacco enthusiasts, to menthol-based flavours for a more refreshing taste sensation.

The range is designed to tap into consumers top flavour preferences and can be used exclusively with Ploom, the heated tobacco device. Available to all London retailers within the M25, customers can maximise this huge sales opportunity by stocking all four EVO tobacco flavours.

What advice do you have for wholesalers on merchandising tobacco?

We would recommend our category solution. Our larger category solution includes backlighting where vaping, next-gen and tobacco products can all be stored in the same gantry. The solution incorporates the entire category and is available in a variety of widths. If this is of interest, speak to your JTI Business Adviser about our new category management solutions.

Knowledge is key and that is what our JTI Business Advisers are armed with. We know that by stocking a full range of bestselling products and maintaining a good availability of stock levels, retailers and their staff can provide a successful offering and service to their customers without them having to shop around, so we help our trade partners manage this.

This change has also resulted in more of our Business Advisers visiting wholesalers more regularly, helping to drive sales and educate staff in depot, so that they are fully up to date on what’s happening in the category. We also support our trade partners through our www.JTIAdvance.co.uk platform, which provides up-to-date advice and information on the latest products and industry news as well as training modules.

How is the UK vaping/next gen category performing and how are your brands performing within the category?

The next-gen nicotine category is one that continues to expand, as new entrants to the marketplace broaden the possibilities for retailers.

The nicotine pouch category in the UK is now worth £2.2 million a month, approximately £26.9 million a year.ix

From a brand performance perspective, Nordic Spirit is the No.1 nicotine pouch brand in traditional retail in the UKx, it has been the second fastest growing nicotine pouch brand in the UK over the last 12 monthsxi and is worth approximately £15.9 million a yearxii.

Can you give us an overview of the company’s brands?

JTI manufactures well-known cigarette brands such as Benson & Hedges Blue, the fastest growing cigarette brand in the UK.xiii JTI supply other leading tobacco products including Amber Leaf, the No.1 tobacco brand,xiv Sterling Dual Capsule Leaf Wrapped, the UK’s No.1 cigarillo brand,xv and Sterling Rolling Tobacco, the UK’s leading Value RYO brandxvi. JTI also offer next-gen products including Logic in the vaping market, the heated tobacco device, Ploom with EVO tobacco sticks, and the 100% tobacco-free nicotine pouch, Nordic Spirit, which is the UK’s No.1 nicotine pouch brand.xvii

What is the value of the UK tobacco market?

Currently worth £15.6 billion in the UKxviii, the tobacco market is still a major profit driver, remaining an important category for many retailers. To cater for all customer preferences, it is now equally important to offer alternative categories such as the new and emerging heated tobacco products and 100% tobacco free nicotine pouches.


Comments are closed.

Bitcoin Tumbler Bitcoin Mixer best bitcoin mixer bitcoin mixing best bitcoin tumbler coin mixer crypto tumbler bitcoin tumblers Coinomize


To use this website, you must be aged 18 years or over
* by clicking above, I agree that I am over 18 years of age
Get Wholesale Manager delivered to your inbox for FREE
Join over 15k subscribers