19 May 2020


“While we delivered against our revised expectations, we are disappointed with these results, and we remain fully focused on all opportunities to strengthen performance.

“We would like to thank our employees for their hard work and commitment in these challenging times. Their support has been outstanding and we continue to prioritise their health, safety and well-being.

“Our enhanced focus on tobacco has driven stronger in-market execution and an improved share performance, with gains in most of our priority markets. We have reduced our NGP spend following the poor returns on investment last year and this, together with recent weaknesses in the vapour category, has resulted in lower NGP revenue.

“Overall, COVID-19 has so far had only a small impact on trading but we expect this to be more pronounced in the second half due to continued pressures on our duty free and travel retail business, changes in consumption patterns including downtrading and a reversal of some first half inventory build.

“Agreeing the sale of our premium cigar business for €1.2 billion in the current climate was a major achievement and will further simplify the business and reduce debt. Deleveraging remains a key priority, such that the Board has decided to rebase the dividend by one-third to accelerate debt repayment, while retaining a progressive dividend policy, growing annually from the rebased level. This will strengthen the balance sheet and support a more flexible approach to capital allocation in the future.”

Dominic Brisby and Joerg Biebernick
Joint Interim Chief Executives

  • Protecting our people in uncertain times: we have taken all necessary steps to ensure our hard-working employees remain safe and well
  • Delivered share growth in tobacco: market share gains for the overall Group and in 7/10 priority markets
  • Right-sized our NGP investment: disciplined approach to improve returns and build sustainability
  • Submitted PMTAs to FDA for myblu products: myblu plays an important role in our NGP portfolio and we look forward to working with the FDA to help develop an evidence-based regulatory policy
  • Challenged the cost base and strengthened the balance sheet: drove a further cost saving initiative and secured additional credit facilities
  • Agreed sale of Premium Cigars for €1.2 billion: reinforces our focus on simplifying the business and realising value for shareholders, with proceeds to be used to reduce debt