Gallaher is to launch a hand-rolling tobacco brand called Drum in an attack on illegal imports of Imperial Tobacco’s own hand-rolling brand of the same name.
Imperial’s product is not legally available in the UK, where the name is a registered trademark belonging to Gallaher, yet it is considered to be the third most popular hand-rolling brand in the country.
The popularity of Imperial’s Drum stems from the increase in tobacco smuggling, owing to high UK taxes and cheaper prices on the continent. It is sold legally under the name Duma, and distribution rights are owned by Swedish Match.
Sources say that Gallaher has now decided to activate its registered trademark for the name Drum in the UK and to sell its own product under that name.
It already sells a brand called Amber Leaf, which has recently been repackaged in boxes shaped like cigarette cartons with papers inside.
It is understood that packets of Gallaher’s Drum will be on sale from August, priced at 1.79 for 12.5 grams.
Imperial acquired its Drum brand when it bought Douwe Egberts Van Nelle from Sara Lee Corporation in April this year for 650m.
Drum sells in 70 countries and has 60 per cent of the Dutch market, the biggest market for hand-rolling tobacco.
Imperial’s acquisition came a year after it bought the cigarette paper manufacturer Rizla for 185m.
The hand-rolling cigarette market is growing in the UK, while sales of conventional cigarettes are in decline.
Gallaher and Imperial were unable to comment on the developments.