Cigarette giant Philip Morris is to launch its first brand in the UK for two decades with a low-priced cigarette called Basic. The brand goes on sale next month.
But Philip Morris will not sell the brand as part of the sales-and-distribution deal with UK partner Imperial Tobacco, which handles its Marlboro brand. Basic will be a direct rival to Imperial Tobacco’s value brands, including Richmond and Lambert & Butler, and will instead be controlled by a dedicated Philip Morris sales team.
A Philip Morris spokesman denies that this will have any effect on its long-term relationship with Imperial Tobacco, which took over the Marlboro contract from British American Tobacco in 2001. Industry insiders say the creation of a sales team could result in a move towards greater control over Philip Morris’s brand portfolio, however.
Basic will retail at 3.89 for 20 cigarettes and will initially be available only in the north of England. Philip Morris will support the launch with a trade advertising campaign, as well as point-of-purchase consumer promotions.