Category Archives: Tobacco

A history of Lambert & Butler

Lambert & Butler is the leading cigarette brand in the United Kingdom.

Lambert & Butler establish the business
Charles Lambert (1814 – 1887) and Charles Butler (1813 – 1882) established a cigar manufacturing business at 38 St John Street in Clerkenwell, London from 1834.

Lambert & Butler relocated to 142 Drury Lane, near Covent Garden, from 1838. The business began to manufacture tobacco, as well as cigars.

Lambert & Butler showcased their English cigars, made from Havana tobacco, at the Great Exhibition of 1851. As a curiosity, the firm also exhibited a sample of English-grown tobacco, raised in Cambridgeshire.

Lambert & Butler had extended their premises to include 141 and 142 Drury Lane by 1852.

Lambert & Butler were advertising across England by 1863.

The next generation takeover management; mass-production of cigarettes begins
The sons of the founders, Charles Edward Lambert (1843 – 1910) and Charles Butler Jr (1848 – 1898), entered into the partnership in the 1860s. Their skilled management was to afford the business considerable impetus.

Lambert & Butler had a capital of £87,200 in 1870.

Charles Butler Sr died with an estate valued at over £47,000 in 1882.

The Drury Lane premises buildings were demolished and rebuilt in 1895. A Luddington cigarette machine was installed. Machine-made cigarettes had lower production costs, and rendered cigarettes affordable for the working classes.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Lambert & Butler had grown to become the third largest tobacco business in Britain, after Wills and Cope Brothers. Lambert & Butler had an excellent marketing department, but competition with Wills was hampered by the more efficient patented methods of production at their major rival.

Charles Butler Jr died in 1898 with an estate valued at £79,558.

The firm was converted into a private limited liability company, Lambert & Butler Ltd, with an authorised capital of £450,000, in 1899.

Lambert & Butler joins Imperial Tobacco
Imperial Tobacco was formed in 1901 as a combine of British manufacturers designed to combat the encroachment of American Tobacco into their country. Lambert & Butler joined as the second largest constituent of the group. Day to day operations at Lambert & Butler continued unchanged.

A large extension of the factory and offices at Drury Lane was completed in 1908.

Charles Edward Lambert died of heart failure in 1910. His estate was valued at £659,193. Photographs of Lambert depict a quintessentially patriarchal Edwardian figure, a mustachioed, well-built fellow who was rarely seen without a cigar in hand.

Walter Butler (1857 – 1913), a member of the Imperial Tobacco executive committee, died in 1913. He left a gross estate valued at £175,599.

Charles Rupert Butler (1873 – 1915) became managing director of Lambert & Butler until his sudden death from heart failure in 1915.

The First World War created a shortage of labour; 96 percent of male Lambert & Butler employees had either enlisted or attested by April 1916. Women were hired to provide cover for the enlisted men.

The principal concern was the manufacture of pipe tobacco by 1928. By this time there was a cigarette factory at Margravine Road, Fulham.

Lambert & Butler launched Varsity, the first filter-tipped cigarette from Imperial Tobacco, in 1936. It was withdrawn from sale around 1940 due to low demand.

Closure of the factory; introduction of the Lambert & Butler King Size cigarette
The sole remaining Lambert & Butler factory was closed in 1958. Its antiquated design meant it was nearly half as efficient as the highest-performing Imperial Tobacco facility. Lambert & Butler production continued at other Imperial Tobacco subsidiary companies. The Lambert & Butler brand accounted for just 0.2 percent of Imperial Tobacco cigarette sales.

The Drury Lane headquarters were closed in 1961.

Lambert & Butler was a relatively small subsidiary throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with a focus on cigars and pipe tobacco.

The Lambert & Butler King Size cigarette was launched in 1979, and was to quickly prove a huge success.

Lambert & Butler King Size was the highest-selling cigarette brand in the United Kingdom by 2008.

King-sized: a history of Rothmans of Pall Mall

Rothmans established the largest mail-order cigarette business in Britain. Rothmans later grew to become the fourth largest cigarette manufacturer in the world.

Establishment
Louis Rothman (1868 – 1926) was born in Kiev, then a part of the Russian Empire. He gained experience of the tobacco trade whilst apprenticed to his uncle in Kiev, who controlled the largest cigarette manufacturer in South Russia.

Louis Rothman (1868 – 1926), date unknown

Rothman emigrated to Britain at the age of 17. He worked for a cigarette manufacturer before entering into business for himself two years later. L Rothman & Co was established with a small shop on Fleet Street, London in 1890. Rothman initially hand-rolled the cigarettes himself.

Rothman became a naturalised British subject from 1896.

L Rothman & Co relocated to 5 and 5a Pall Mall from 1900.

Marcus Weinberg (1859 – 1923) was a Jewish emigre from what is now part of Poland. He controlled Weinberg & Co, one of the longest-established cigarette manufacturers in London. Rothman and Weinberg merged their interests to form the Yenidje Tobacco Company Ltd from 1913. Following a vicious dispute with Weinberg, after which neither partner would speak to the other, Rothman bought out full control of the venture in 1917.

Introduction of the Pall Mall cigarette and the mail-order business model
Pall Mall cigarettes became the leading Rothmans brand.* They contained a blend of South Carolina tobacco and Virginia leaf. The cigarette was supplied to the House of Lords by 1920. Pall Mall cigarettes were advertised as, “less liable to stain the fingers and may be smoked constantly without affecting the most delicate throat”, due to containing less nicotine than any other brand.

Rothmans converted to a wholesale business model from 1922. By supplying customers directly through mail-order, prices were immediately reduced by 25 to 33 percent. The cigarettes typically reached the consumer within a few days after production, which helped to preserve product freshness.

Sydney Rothman (1897 – 1995) entered into partnership with his father from 1923.

L Rothman & Co sales increased fourfold between 1922 and 1926.

Louis Rothman died in 1926. He was remembered as a generous and charitable man.

Conversion into a public company
L Rothman & Co became a public company with a capital of £220,000 from 1929.

Rothmans supported its mail-order supply business with extensive newspaper advertising. It was the largest mail-order cigarette manufacturer in Britain by 1932.

Over one billion Rothmans cigarettes were supplied to the British armed forces during the Second World War.

Acquisition by the Rembrandt Tobacco Group
Following the war home market sales were negligible, and the business was acquired by the Rembrandt Tobacco Group, controlled by Anton Rupert (1916 – 2006), for £750,000 in 1954.

Sydney Rothman was retained as chairman of Rothmans, and his technical advice was to prove invaluable.

Rupert had been the first person to introduce the king-size cigarette in his native South Africa. Sales grew rapidly after Rupert introduced the king-size filter-tip cigarette to the Rothmans product range.

Rothmans King Size cigarette advertisement, c. mid 1960s

Rothmans maintained the last brougham, a four-wheeled horse-driven carriage, in London. Built in 1865, it was used to deliver tobacco to West End clubs and restaurants. Its maintenance costs ran to £3,000 a year by 1956.

A cigarette factory was established in Toronto, Canada from 1957. Rothmans was the highest-selling king-size filter cigarette in the Commonwealth.

Acquisition of Carreras
In 1958 Rembrandt gained control of Carreras, manufacturer of Craven A cigarettes, and merged the company with Rothmans. The combined company held three percent of the British tobacco market.

Sydney Rothman retired as chairman of Rothmans in 1979.

The Rothmans brougham was still in use until at least as late as 1980.

Rothmans held 39 percent of the Australian cigarette market by 1983.

Global scale and absorption by British American Tobacco
Rothmans was the fourth largest cigarette manufacturer in the world by 1991, with two percent of the global market.

Rothmans was acquired by British American Tobacco for $7.6 billion in 1999. Rothmans remains one of the leading cigarette brands of British American Tobacco as of 2019.

Notes
* The Rothman’s Pall Mall cigarette is not connected to the Pall Mall cigarette manufactured by R J Reynolds in the United States.

The unfiltered history of Benson & Hedges

Benson & Hedges cigarettes are sold across the world. A former subsidiary introduced the highly successful Parliament cigarette brand to the United States.

Establishment and early growth
William Hedges (1836 – 1913) and Richard Matthias Benson (1817 – 1882) established themselves as tobacconists and cigar importers on 13 Old Bond Street, London from 1873. Benson & Hedges targeted the aristocratic market from their location on one of the most exclusive streets in the world.

William Hedges was born at St Marylebone, the son of a coal merchant. A refined and pious man, he was a clerk by trade and a keen Wesleyan Methodist who frankly considered the tobacco business to be on the verge of immorality.

Richard Benson was a Bristol tobacconist who had followed his father into the trade. He was a coarse man, and in many ways the opposite of Hedges. He spent much of his time at his tobacconists in Bristol, but when in London he would stand outside the Benson & Hedges shop, dressed drably, smoking a cigar and brazenly spitting onto the street.

Benson smoked fourteen to fifteen cigars a day, and died, allegedly from excessive smoking, in 1882. It was estimated that he smoked £20,000 of the firm’s stock during his lifetime.

A P Hedges enters the firm
Alfred Paget Hedges (1867 – 1929), the son of William Hedges, joined the firm as an assistant to his father following the death of Richard Benson. He possessed a fierce ambition, but was also likeable, and considered a thoroughly decent human being.

Alfred Paget Hedges (1867- 1929)

Benson & Hedges was converted into a private limited company in 1896.

Establishment of American subsidiaries
The London business attracted a number of high-spending Americans. Encouraged by their custom, William Hedges established a United States subsidiary at 288 Fifth Avenue, New York, from 1897. Arthur Quinton Walsh (born 1861), a long-term bookkeeper for Benson & Hedges, was sent to manage the subsidiary. A relatively small business, it sold high quality cigars and manufactured premium-market cigarettes.

Sales were slow to develop at Fifth Avenue. The store was located on the first floor, and was thus unable to entice window shoppers. Walsh instead found success when he established a branch outlet in affluent Newport, Rhode Island.

Walsh eventually defied the orders of William Hedges and relocated the New York shop to a ground-level address at 314 Fifth Avenue from 1900. He removed the business to 17 West 31st Street from around 1905, but this was to prove unsuccessful due to its more obscure location. He relocated the business to 435 Fifth Avenue from 1907.

The Benson & Hedges branch in New York (1911)

A Canadian subsidiary was established on Cote Street, Montreal from 1906. Both North American branches were to prove successful.

A P Hedges became the managing director following the retirement of his father in around 1901. A P Hedges was a man guided by his Wesleyan Methodist faith, and served as a lay preacher. He was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Tunbridge in Kent from 1906 -1910.

Benson & Hedges was converted into a public company with a share capital of £120,000 in 1910 in order to fund the expansion of the London and Montreal businesses.

William Paget Hedges (born 1894) joined his father at Benson & Hedges following service in the First World War.

Benson & Hedges was one of the largest retailers of high-quality cigars in the world by 1917.

Company capital was almost doubled to £220,000 in 1920 in order to establish a new cigarette factory at 104, New King’s Road, Fulham, and to provide further capital for the North American subsidiaries.

The American subsidiary was highly successful on the back of a strong national economy, and the British company continued to prosper. A Florida branch was opened in affluent Palm Beach from 1923.

Meanwhile the hitherto successful Canadian subsidiary entered into modest losses in 1925 and 1926, triggered by an economic depression which hit the luxury trade particularly badly. This was compounded by high taxation. Management believed that the subsidiary would have required a very high level of advertising expenditure if it was to remain viable, and lacked sufficient capital to provide it. As a result of this, the Canadian subsidiary was sold to Adhemar Gaston Munich (1882 – 1970), a French-born Quebec investor, and a regular customer, in 1926.

The United States subsidiary was sold to two New York banking houses in 1928. With a modest sales force of no more than 20 people, the company grew rapidly. It was to find great success with Parliament, a premium-priced filtered cigarette, from 1931. Joseph F Cullman Jr (1882 – 1955) acquired control of the company in 1941.

A P Hedges died in his London office from heart failure in 1929. Major Arthur Pearson Davison (1866 – 1955) became managing director of Benson & Hedges.

Benson & Hedges held a prestigious Royal Warrant to supply King George VI by 1946.

Benson & Hedges (USA) was the seventh largest cigarette manufacturer in America by 1952, and sales were dominated by Parliaments. However the company lacked sufficient scale to provide its growing brand with the research and marketing support that it needed. Benson & Hedges (USA) was acquired by Philip Morris, which, although the fourth largest cigarette manufacturer in the country, lacked a successful filtered cigarette brand of its own, in 1953. Sales of Parliaments tripled between 1953 and 1961, due to improved distribution and a growing market for filtered cigarettes.

Sale to Gallaher
Benson & Hedges of Old Bond Street enjoyed consistently moderate success due to its specialisation in the luxury trade. The business was subject to a friendly takeover by Gallaher, a large British tobacco company which was attracted to the prestige value of the brand, in 1955.

Benson & Hedges held a Royal Warrant to supply the household of Queen Elizabeth II by 1956.

Gallaher sold the overseas rights to the Benson & Hedges brand outside North America to British American Tobacco in 1956.

The independent Benson & Hedges (Canada) Ltd was acquired by Philip Morris in 1958.

Benson & Hedges introduced the Mayfair and Sterling brands to the British market from 1965.

Benson & Hedges was the leading king-size cigarette brand in Britain by 1966.

Benson & Hedges (Canada) merged with Rothmans in 1986 to form Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc, in which Rothmans held a 60 percent stake, and Philip Morris held a 40 percent stake.

The Benson & Hedges premises at 13 Old Bond Street were retained until at least 1998.

The Queen Elizabeth II Royal Warrant was withdrawn in 1999.

Japan Tobacco acquired Gallaher for £9.7 billion in 2007.

Philip Morris International acquired full control of Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc for about C$2 billion in 2008.

Benson & Hedges remains a leading brand of Japan Tobacco, Philip Morris USA, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco as of 2019.

Parliament is the twelfth highest-selling cigarette brand in the world.

Whiff of success: Henri Wintermans

Henri Wintermans is the highest-selling cigar brand in the world.

Sjaak and Henri Wintermans (1886 – 1975), two brothers, established a cigar manufacturing business at Duizel, the Netherlands, from 1904. They traded as A Wintermans & Sons, in honour of their father.

Sjaak concentrated on sales and Henri concentrated on buying and blending tobacco.

A Wintermans & Sons captured a substantial proportion of the Dutch market but Henri amicably left the partnership to establish his own cigar manufacturing business from 1934.

Henri Wintermans relocated to the neighbouring town of Eersel, and his son Adriaan entered into the business. Adriaan Wintermans took over management of the business from 1945.

Wintermans identified the post-war Dutch cigar market as over-saturated, and decided to concentrate on export sales to drive his business forward. Britain was soon the company’s largest sales market.

The Cafe Creme cigarillo was introduced in France from the early 1960s.

Henri Wintermans was by far the most popular Dutch cigar brand in the United Kingdom by 1965.

Adriaan Wintermans had a clear vision for the European cigar market, but he lacked the financial capital to realise his ambition. He felt that the company could best realise its potential as a part of a larger concern. He sold Henri Wintermans to British American Tobacco (BAT) for just under £2 million in 1966.

BAT was the largest manufacturer of tobacco products in the world, and Adriaan Wintermans was appointed head of the European cigar business.

Over 500 million Henri Wintermans cigars were produced in 1971.

Henri Wintermans made just two percent of its sales in the Netherlands in 1972. The United Kingdom accounted for over 62 percent of sales, and Henri Wintermans held around 15 percent of the UK cigar market.

Henri Wintermans increased sales by over 500 percent between 1966 and 1972. Production capacity was increased by 75 percent to cope with rising demand in 1972.

Henri Wintermans was the leading cigar exporter in the world by 1977. It was the highest-selling imported cigar brand in Britain by 1978.

Wintermans Cafe Creme ranked second in the British miniature cigar market by 1983.

Broadsheet festive “banter”. A 1986 Henri Wintermans advertisement in the Daily Telegraph

Over 600 million Henri Winterman cigars were sold in 1990.

Henri Wintermans was sold to the Scandinavian Tobacco Group for £55 million in 1996.

Henri Wintermans products are still manufactured in Eersel. The vast majority of sales are in Europe.

Close but no cigar: Cope Brothers

Cope Brothers of Liverpool operated the largest tobacco factory in the world.

Establishment and the Victorian era
George Cope (1823 – 1888) and Thomas Cope (1827 – 1884) began to sell cigars, snuff and tobacco from 63 Paradise Street, Liverpool in 1848. Trading as Cope Brothers, manufacturing took place at Lord Nelson Street by 1853.

George Cope managed the manufacturing arm of the firm, while Thomas Cope was responsible for the business as a whole.

Cope Brothers was one of the first tobacco manufacturers in Britain to employ a female workforce. Cope Brothers began to employ women following a factory strike in 1858. Female workers proved capable, so the policy was continued until the factory employed around 700 women and girls by 1871, out of a total of 774 employees.

Cope’s Christmas entertainment at St George’s Hall, Liverpool in 1864. Image from the Illustrated London News.

Cope Brothers operated the largest tobacco factory in Britain by 1870. Charles Dickens and Emily Faithfull reported favourably on conditions in the factory, which was spacious and well-ventilated. The girls were generally the daughters of shopkeepers, warehousemen and clerks, and worked shifts of six to eight hours. Cope Brothers employed 1,400 women and girls by 1879.

Cope Brothers operated the largest tobacco factory in the world in 1884. The buildings occupied almost the entirety of one side of Lord Nelson Street. Cope Brothers was the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in England, with a production rate of 250,000 to 300,000 a week.

Thomas Cope left an estate valued at £199,000 when he died in 1884.

Cope Brothers was converted into a private limited liability company with a capital of £350,000 in 1885. John A Willox (1842 – 1905) was appointed as a director.

George Cope died in 1888. He was succeeded as managing director by his nephew, Thomas Henry Cope (1867 – 1913).

Cope’s Tobacco Works in 1889

The regular workforce at the Liverpool factory totalled 1,500 people by 1892, many of them women and girls. With four percent of the British tobacco market, Cope Brothers was second only to Wills of Bristol.

Increased competition
The American Tobacco Company (ATC) acquired Ogdens, a Liverpool tobacco manufacturer, in 1901. ATC operated Ogdens at a massive loss in order to undercut its rivals and increase its market share. Although the acquisition was to impact the entire British tobacco industry, Cope Brothers suffered more that most, perhaps due to its proximity to its rival, as well as its decision not to join Imperial Tobacco, formed as a defensive merger of major British tobacco companies.

John A Willox, chairman of Cope Brothers, decried “the deliberate and organised effort on the part of American capitalists to destroy a British industry and create a selfish monopoly for themselves”. On the other hand, the Daily Mail criticised Cope Brothers as “slow, easy-going [and] old-fashioned”, with “out-of-date methods”.

In a defensive move, Cope Brothers acquired Richard Lloyd of Clerkenwell, a London tobacco manufacturer best known for the Old Holborn brand, in 1902. William Jollyman (1844 – 1920), the proprietor of Richard Lloyd, was appointed general manager of Cope Brothers.

Robinson & Barnsdale, tobacco manufacturer of Nottingham, was acquired in 1905.

Escudo Navy De Luxe pipe tobacco was introduced by Cope Brothers from 1912.

H C Lloyd & Son Ltd of Exeter was acquired in 1924.

Strike issues and acquisition
Around 460 Cope Brothers employees went on strike in 1950 in protest against the employment of non-unionised labour. The strike lasted for nearly three months, and resulted in the dismissal of nearly 200 striking workers.

Cope Brothers was acquired by Gallaher in an exchange of shares which valued the company at around £1 million in 1953.

At the time purchase of American tobacco was rationed by the British Government, and Gallaher acquired Cope Brothers to increase its quota allowance. Gallaher was also attracted by the fast-growing Old Holborn brand.

Gallaher closed the Cope Brothers factory and sold the site to the Automatic Telephone and Electric Company. Meanwhile, capacity at the Richard Lloyd factory was increased.

All Cope Brothers branded products had been discontinued by 1965, with the exception of Escudo Navy De Luxe pipe tobacco. Various Richard Lloyd branded products were still produced, such as Old Holborn.

Old Holborn is still widely sold in Britain, and Escudo Navy De Luxe pipe tobacco is produced overseas by Scandinavian Tobacco Group.

John Hodge Tobacco Co

The John Hodge Tobacco Company was the largest exporter of dark leaf tobacco from the United States.

John Henderson Hodge (1852 – 1935) was born in Glasgow in 1852 to James Hodge and Catherine (nee Henderson). His father was a partner in J&T Hodge, which operated a tobacco factory employing four men and 18 boys in 1861.

John H Hodge emigrated to the United States in 1876 and established the John Hodge Tobacco Company at Madisonville, Kentucky. He was joined by his brother, Thomas Hodge (born 1859) in 1880.

Hodge married a Kentuckian, Kitty G Hodge (born 1856). His sons included James (born 1881), William R (born 1886) and John H (born 1889).

The Hodge tobacco factory at Henderson, Kentucky was struck by fire in 1895.

James Hodge retired from J & T Hodge, tobacco and cigarette manufacturers of St Ninian Street, Glasgow, in 1902, leaving William Hodge as the sole partner. James R Hodge was a witness to the transaction.

The John Hodge Tobacco Co acquired three million pounds of tobacco for about $175,000 in a single transaction in 1913.

The Hodge Tobacco Co, wholesaler and exporter of Henderson and Hopkins counties, Kentucky, employed 554 people in 1926.

John Henderson Hodge died in 1935.

James Hodge died in 1944.

Hodge Tobacco Co employed 200 workers during peak season in 1965, and had annual sales of over $1.5 million.

The business was operated by Thomas Hodge (1925 – 2011), the son of William Hodge, until its dissolution in 1972.

Up in smoke: a history of Gallaher

Gallaher was one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.

Establishment
Thomas Gallaher (1840 – 1927) was the son of a prosperous Protestant miller who owned the Templemoyle Grain Mills in Eglinton, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Gallaher served an apprenticeship with Robert Bond, a general merchant on Shipquay Street, Londonderry, in the early 1850s.

Gallaher borrowed £200 from his parents and opened a tobacconist business at 7 Sackville Street, Londonderry, in 1857. He manufactured and sold Irish roll pipe tobacco. The expanding business was relocated to Belfast from 1863.

A five-storey factory employing 600 people was built at York Road, Belfast in 1881.

A factory was opened at 60 Holborn Viaduct in London in 1888, followed by a Clerkenwell factory a year later.

The firm was converted into a limited liability company with a capital of £1 million in 1896.

A new £100,000 factory across seven acres was opened in Belfast in 1897. It was probably the largest tobacco manufacturing plant in the world.

Park Drive, a machine-made cigarette brand, was introduced from 1902.

Thomas Gallaher declined to join the great tobacco combines of the age, Imperial Tobacco and the American Tobacco Company, and consequently he controlled the largest independent tobacco company in the world by 1903.

Gallaher bought his raw materials directly, and by cutting out the middleman he was able to keep his costs low. He was the largest independent purchaser of American tobacco in the world by 1906, and bought only the highest grade of crop.

The atmosphere at the Belfast factory was described as familial. Midday meals were served at cost-price. Gallaher was the first man in Belfast to reduce working hours from 57 to 47 a week. The company employed 3,000 people by 1907.

Gallaher acquired the six acre Great Brunswick Street premises of the Dublin City Distillery for £20,000 in 1908. There, he built a large tobacco factory.

At York Street, Belfast, Gallaher established what was, by 1914, one of the largest tobacco factories in the world. The company also owned extensive plantations in Virginia.

gallaheryorkroad
The York Road, Belfast site

Gallaher continued to work at his desk every day until a few months before he died in 1927. He was remembered as a courteous, kindly man, a generous employer, and an extremely talented businessman. His plain ways endeared him to people. He left an estate valued at £503,954.

The company was principally inherited by his nephew, John Gallaher Michaels (1880 – 1948). Michaels had worked for his uncle for many years, and had been manger of the American operations.

Public offering
The Constructive Finance & Investment Co, led by Edward de Stein (1887 – 1965), acquired the entire share capital of Gallaher for several million pounds in 1929, and offered shares to the public.

Why Michaels divested his stake in Gallaher remains unclear, but he, his uncle and his brother all lacked heirs, so perhaps he simply wished to retire and pass on management of the company to others.

A new factory was established at East Wall, Dublin for £250,000 in 1929. The East Wall factory was closed with the loss of 400 jobs, following the introduction of a tariff on businesses not majority-owned by Irish residents, in 1932.

Imperial Tobacco acquired 51 percent of Gallaher for £1.25 million in 1932. Gallaher retained its managerial independence, and the Imperial Tobacco move was executed with the intention of blocking a potential bid for Gallaher from the American Tobacco Company.

Acquisition trail and subsequent growth
Gallaher was the fourth largest cigarette manufacturer in Britain by 1932.

Gallaher acquired Peter Jackson in 1934. The firm manufactured Du Maurier cigarettes, which was the first popular filter-tip brand in Britain.

E Robinson & Son, manufacturers of Senior Service cigarettes, was acquired in 1937. Senior Service had been highly successful within the Manchester area, but Robinson’s had lacked the capital to take the brand nationwide.

J Freeman & Son, cigar manufacturers of Cardiff, was acquired in 1947.

Gallaher acquired Cope Brothers of Liverpool, owners of the Old Holborn brand, in 1952.

Benson & Hedges was acquired, mainly for the prestigious brand name, in 1955.

Gallaher sales grew rapidly in the 1950s. Senior Service and Park Drive became respectively the third and fourth highest selling cigarettes in Britain in 1959, by which time Gallaher held 30 percent of the British tobacco market.

Gallaher acquired J Wix & Sons Ltd, the fast-growing manufacturer of Kensitas cigarettes, from the American Tobacco Company in 1961.

The Imperial Tobacco stake in Gallaher had been diluted to 37 percent by 1961.

Gallaher claimed 37 percent of the British cigarette market by 1962.

A large factory was established at Airton Road, Dublin in 1963.

Silk Cut was launched as a low-tar brand in 1964.

Company president Sir Edward de Stein died in 1965.

Gallaher employed 15,000 people in 1965, and had an authorised capital of £45 million in 1968. The company held 27 percent of the British tobacco market in 1968.

Benson & Hedges was the leading king-size cigarette brand in Britain by 1981.

Declining market and sale
The Belfast factory was closed in 1988. 700 jobs were lost, and production was relocated to Ballymena in County Antrim.

A cigar factory in Port Talbot, Wales was closed with the loss of 370 jobs in 1994.

The Manchester cigarette factory was closed in 2000-1. Nearly 1,000 jobs were lost. Production was transferred to Ballymena, where 300 extra jobs were created.

Japan Tobacco acquired Gallaher, by then the fifth largest tobacco company in the world, for £7.5 billion in cash in 2007.

Ballymena, the last remaining tobacco factory in the UK, was closed in 2017, with production relocated to Eastern Europe. 860 jobs were lost.

Japan Tobacco holds 40 percent of the British tobacco market as of 2018.

A brief history of Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco dominated the British tobacco trade throughout the twentieth century.

Wills of Bristol employed about 1,000 workers by 1889. The business was best known for the Woodbine brand. Informed by their Congregationalist principles, the Wills family had, by 1895, introduced financing for a staff canteen, a convalescent home, a sanatorium, a resident nurse and doctor, paid holidays and a number of recreational clubs.

Imperial Tobacco was formed in 1901 by the merger of thirteen leading British tobacco companies. Wills controlled the combine with just over half of the equity, followed by Lambert & Butler of London, Mitchell of Glasgow and John Player of Nottingham.

It was a defensive merger following the acquisition of Ogden of Liverpool, one of Britain’s leading cigarette manufacturers, by the highly capitalised American Tobacco Company.

Salmon & Gluckstein, a retail tobacconist with 184 branches, was acquired for over £1.25 million in 1902, largely to prevent its acquisition by American Tobacco.

American Tobacco sold Ogden to Imperial in 1902, and both companies agreed to avoid its rivals’ domestic market. The global market was to be catered for by a new company called British American Tobacco, with a two third stake held by American Tobacco and one third held by Imperial.

Imperial Tobacco estimated it had “rather over 50 percent” of the British tobacco market by 1904.

The Wills Embassy brand was launched in 1914.

By 1920 Imperial Tobacco had 72.5 percent of the British tobacco market, including 91 percent of all cigarette sales.

The firms in the combine retained their own brands and salesmen, but pricing and accounting were organised centrally.

By the late 1920s Imperial Tobacco had seen its virtual monopoly on cigarettes corroded by the re-emergence of competitors such as Carreras, Gallaher and Godfrey Phillips.

Imperial Tobacco employed 40,000 people across 27 factories by 1933.

John Player overtook Wills to become the largest single Imperial Tobacco subsidiary in the 1940s.

Imperial Tobacco held 78.8 percent of the British tobacco market in 1955.

Will’s Embassy was the highest-selling filtered cigarette in Britain by 1963.

Imperial held 66 percent of the British tobacco market in 1968, followed by Gallaher (Benson & Hedges) with 29 percent. Carreras (Rothmans, Dunhill) was third in the market with a seven percent share.