It has been going on for a few years now, but now it seems official. The global vaping firm known as British American Tobacco has gotten the green light from the Competition Tribunal to acquire local e-cigarette company Twisp in South Africa, with employment condition conditions.
The transaction which will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019, mows the lawn leading to the door behind which is BAT’s intentions to target 70 million adult African smokers to switch to vaping products. The acquisition was approved because the UK-based group agreed to a series of conditions.
In South Africa, Twisp is arguably the largest multi-channel distributor of vaping products and flavors. The company has almost 70 dedicated outlets nationwide in prime locations, retailer distribution, and a modern e-commerce platform. Twisp has become the go-to destination for adult consumers in search of potentially reduced-risk products in the country.
British American Tobacco is a vaping leader in Europe and has a strong foothold in the United States. By way of this acquisition, the firm will be able to expand its geography in a key market using Twisp’s portfolio of innovative products.
The buy as well expands BAT’s existing consumer engagement strategy via ownership of an increasing retail footprint. The South African firm’s outlets will increase BAT’s existing retail of 110 outlets in the U.K., roughly 1000 in Germany and 636 in Poland.
“South Africa is the most profitable market in value in the African continent, with 10.9 million smokers and a total adult population of 38 million people. The vaping market has grown exponentially in recent years, and it is estimated that 1.5 million South African adults have already interacted with potentially reduced-risk products, mainly in vaping,” said BAT Southern Africa chief executive Soraya Benchikh.
Kingsley Wheaton, Chief Marketing Officer, British American Tobacco, said: “Twisp in South Africa brilliantly complements our well-developed existing New Category retail footprint in Poland, the U.K., and Germany.
This footprint is of strategic importance to our future; allowing us to develop direct-to-consumer relationships, gain substantial consumer insight, and the ability to fast pilot and test new product lines from our New Category brands.
He adds that consistency in this retail footprint will be critical for consumer navigation, and the roll-out of a homogeneous retail branded proposition has already commenced in Europe.
BAT, in 2017, acquired Reynolds American International (RAI). That included RJ Reynolds, the maker of Camel and Newport cigar and Vuse cigalikes, which are some of the market leaders in the convenience store and gas station sales channel.
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