Philip Morris International (Altria Group)
The biggest and the oldest cigarette manufacturer is Philip Morris established in 1874 by Philip Morris, Esq., Tobacconist and Importer of Fine Seegars. The first company shop had been opened on Bond Street that later became the center of the retail tobacco trade. After his Philip’s death his wife Margaret and brother Leopold took over the business expanding it slowly but steadily. Only fifty years after its founding, the company was incorporated in Canada and the US and appointed tobacconist for King Edward VII. The interesting fact is that Philip Morris’ most famous brand Marlboro was first introduced and advertised as a brand for women. Only few short years later, Philip Morris launches its worldwide famous campaign “Marlboro Country” featuring the Marlboro Man. Philip Morris International has worked for many years to develop new tobacco products supplying the ceaseless demand, introducing new high quality brands.
British American Tobacco
The second largest cigarette manufacturer company is the British American Tobacco (BAT) founded over 100 years ago in 1902 by UK Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company (hence the name). Despite the name, BAT was established to trade outside both UK and US. The strategy of BAT’s first chairman James ‘Buck’ Duke, self-taught commercial genius, was to develop a high quality product, hire the best people for the job, price it as low as possible, and mechanize, organize and merchandise. Thanks to this strategy during the first decade of its existence BAT expended immensely. It even survives the 1929 Wall Street Crash due to its tobacco fields and manufacturing plants located worldwide. World War II and decolonization create turbulent times for BAT. The company loses its plants in China to the Japanese and European network is heavily disrupted but in the course of 20 post-war years manages to recover becoming one of the world tobacco manufacturing leaders.
RJ Reynolds is the second largest tobacco manufacturer in the US. It was founded in 1874 in Winston-Salem by R.J.Reynolds. To start his own tobacco company RJ sold his shares in his father’s company, moved to Winston-Salem and bought the first building for the future factory. In the first year of its existence RJR produced 150,000 pounds of tobacco. By 1890 the production volume was millions of pounds. Moreover, RJR had the largest and the most innovative tobacco company in Winston-Salem with steampower engines and electricity.
At the beginning of the 20th century RJR bought out most of the competition producing 25% of chewing tobacco in America. The company also invested in its base-town and its employees building the whole neighborhood in Winston-Salem and selling the houses to company employees at cost value.
RJR’s most popular cigarettes were Camel introduced in 1913. A lot of time has passed since then; the company grew, evolved and launched new products. Now RJ Reynolds is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., 42% of which is owned by the British American Tobacco.
Imperial Tobacco Group
Imperial Tobacco Group is the fourth largest tobacco manufacturer and second largest UK-based tobacco company. Imperial was founded in 1901 when 13 British tobacco and cigarette companies joined together comprising a conglomerate named W.D & H.O Wills of Bristol.
In 1902 Imperial Tobacco and American Tobacco Company joined forces creating British American Tobacco (BAT). In 1911, however, the American Tobacco Company sold its share in BAT while the Imperial Tobacco held on to its part till 1980.
Now Imperial Tobacco is an independent tobacco manufacturer listed on the UK stock exchange.
In 2003 Imperial Tobacco purchased the Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH of Germany adding such brands as Davidoff, Peter Sluyvesant and West to its list of products. In 2008 Imperial acquired Atladis with its brands Fortuna, Gauloises, Blondes and Gitanes.