New Chief at British American Tobacco

Nicandro Durante takes helm with plans to "refresh and enhance" brand portfolio.

Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

LONDON -- Tuesday, March 1, 2011, marks the first official day for Nicandro Durante as chief executive at British American Tobacco, which includes brands Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Kent and Pall Mall among its "global drive brands."

Durante joined the company in 1981, and has served as president of its Brazilian subsidiary Souza Cruz since 2002.
In the company's results announcement, Durante noted in his review, "Our strategy won't change, although we may talk about it in a slightly different way."

We still think that delivering growth is the key to achieving our vision to lead [image-nocss] the tobacco industry. This means placing an even greater focus on growth and ensuring that it drives everything we do."

While he said that a recession is not a good time to predict the long-term future, he said "consumer-led innovations" will help the company build brand strength.

Most growth, he said, would be organic. "However, we continue to monitor acquisition opportunities around the world and will participate where it makes financial and strategic sense to do so."

Paul Adams, the company's chief executive for the past seven years, is retiring. In his own review, Adams said he was "satisfied with the progress" the company has made over his term, including a recent growth in market share in its top 40 markets: up 30 basis points to 25.3 percent.

The remarks came just as the company was announcing its 2010 profits, which increased despite lower volumes. Volumes were down two percent to 708 billion units. Meanwhile, the company had annual net profits equating to $4.7 billion an increase of six percent over 2009--due in part to price increases.