British American Tobacco (BAT) has emerged as one of the few winners from the Japanese tsunami after the company generated £50m of extra profits and shipped an extra 2bn cigarettes to the embattled country.
Michael Prideaux, director of corporate and regulatory affairs, said: “With the tsunami, Japan Tobacco stopped production and we benefited massively. We ended last year with 11pc of the Japanese market; following the tsunami that rose as high as 20pc. We reckon JT will get most of that back, but hopefully we’ll hold on to a bit of it.”
The performance in Japan helped BAT increase group revenues by 2pc to £7.44bn in the six months to the end of June, with pre-tax profits 22pc higher at £2.79bn. At constant exchange rates, revenues were up 7pc.
Sales volumes fell 1pc to 344bn sticks, but the rate of decline slowed from 1.8pc in the first quarter. Mr Prideaux put that down to “economies rebounding and us gaining market share”.
He added: “When you sit in the UK with the economy as flat as a tack, it is easy to forget some other countries hardly got into recession.”
Following a price war in Spain with Imperial Tobacco, BAT said profits in the country had deteriorated, although Mr Prideaux claimed BAT’s share was up one percentage point at 12pc.