Imperial Tobacco's Finance Director retires, profits to fall in first half

Imperial Tobacco announced on Wednesday that its Finance Director is to step down from the company, as it revealed operating profits would decline in the first half.

Imperial Tobacco announced on Wednesday that its Finance Director is to step down from the company, as it revealed operating profits would decline in the first half.

The cigarette and tobacco manufacturer said that long-running Finance Director Bob Dyrbus is to retire from the board until the company can find a replacement.

He has been working for the company for 25 years as a senior executive and has held his position as the head of finance since the company listed in 1996.

Chairman Iain Napier commented: "On behalf of the board and our employees I would like to thank Bob for the huge contribution he's made to our success. As well as taking overall responsibility for the effective financial management and control of the group for many years, Bob's played a key role in expanding our international operations through acquisitions that have created significant value for our shareholders."

The firm also announced that it has appointed Non-Executive Director Mark Williamson, who has been on the board since 2007, as Deputy Chairman.

Imperial gives gloomy outlook

The company said that due to its ongoing investment and European market pressures, first-half adjusted operating profit would be down year-on-year, though full-year guidance still remains unchanged, with profits weighted to the second half.

Meanwhile, the firm also said that its performance in the EU was hit be further declines in the legal market size as illicit trade continues to rise.

For the first quarter, the company reported that stick equivalent volumes had fallen 1.0%. Net revenue had risen 2.0%, with a price-mix improvement of 3.5% in the three months to December 31st, as "positive momentum" in key markets in the Rest of World division offset by declines in EU volumes, the company said.

Chief Executive Alison Cooper said: "The growth momentum in key markets in Africa and the Middle East and Asia-Pacific is being offset by the current adverse market dynamics in Europe, with increasing levels of illicit trade.

"This reinforces the importance of our two focus areas for 2013: further investing behind our key total tobacco assets and geographies; and accelerating our cost optimisation programme, providing funds for investment and mitigation for the full year given the current European environment."

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