7 Aug 2012

Imperial Tobacco confident upgraded factory will be viable

8:00 am on 7 August 2012

Imperial Tobacco says it is confident its upgraded Petone factory will be viable in the future, despite moves to introduce plain packaging for tobacco and make the country smoke-free by 2025.

The country's largest cigarette and tobacco producer invested $50 million in the upgrade, which will triple its cigarette output to 3.9 billion a year, while it will continue to produce more than 850 tonnes of rolling tobacco.

The upgrade has generated 50 new jobs and Imperial now employs 210 staff, whom it says are mostly local people.

New Zealand market manager Paul Warham says the company will continue to produce for the local market into the foreseeable future despite Government aspirations to get the country smoke-free in 13 years.

Mr Warham says the company can grow its market share of whatever the existing market is in New Zealand, plus the factory exports about 75% of its product to Australia, as well as exporting to some smaller countries.