Dean Sims has resigned as general manager of the British American Tobacco-owned trade marketing diversification company Work Investment Company (WIC) to join another part of the BAT empire.
The move puts a question mark over BAT’s multi-million pound commitment to its trademark diversification programme.
BAT would not confirm Sims’ new position, but sources say he has been seconded to a business negotiation specialist linked to BAT. A spokesman says: “It’s too early to say whether that position will be filled.”
Hans Niederman, BAT worldwide director of trade marketing, is also chief executive of WIC. Sims is understood to have fallen out with Niederman, who was appointed in April over him. The row is believed to be over how to market brands such as Lucky Strike and 555.
One former senior BAT executive argues that the company has always been uncommitted to diverting funds into trademark diversification, which could be used to compete head on with Marlboro, the Philip Morris-owned global brand leader.
He says: “Whenever BAT has dabbled in diversification, the various operating companies have successfully argued that time and resources should instead be deployed to make inroads into Marlboro cigarettes around the world.” But a BAT spokesman comments: “Our commitment to the diversification campaign is unchanged.”
WIC has a 10m annual UK research and development budget. In June, the company test-launched a Lucky Strike catalogue in the UK. Philip Morris has 1,000 Marlboro Classic clothing stores around the world.