(Reuters) - Cigarette maker Imperial Brands Plc IMB.L named Stefan Bomhard, CEO of car dealer Inchcape INCH.L, as its new chief executive on Monday to steer the company through challenges in e-cigarettes and vaping and falling consumption of tobacco products.
Bombard replaces Alison Cooper, whose departure was announced last October.
Bomhard joins the maker of Gauloises and Winston cigarettes after five years at the helm of British car dealer Inchcape and, prior to that, senior roles at Cadbury, Burger King and Unilever among other consumer goods groups.
He faces the task of turning around Imperial’s vaping and other ‘next generation’ products, which were meant to be the future for Imperial Brands but growth has been slower than expected.
Imperial, like its peers, has been hit hard by a slowdown in e-cigarette sales after a number of vaping-related deaths and illnesses and after high rates of teen use of e-cigarettes triggered regulatory scrutiny on the safety of these products.
This month the U.S. government banned the sale of some pod-based flavors for e-cigarettes, including fruit and mint, in the country. Imperial makes 30% of its profits in the United States, the world’s biggest vaping market.
Bomhard will also be seeking to boost sales of Imperial’s flagship blu e-cigarette brands, which Cooper admitted were not attracting consumer loyalty despite Imperial’s marketing efforts.
Imperial Brand shares have fallen nearly 23% over the past year, underperforming the broader FTSE .FTSE's 4.5% rise. They were down 0.4% at 1,942.6 pence in early trade on Monday, as the company also announced that Matthew Phillips was stepping down as chief development officer with immediate effect.
“Stefan takes on the chief executive officer role at a significant point in Imperial’s development,” Chairwoman Thérèse Esperdy said. “Stefan has significant experience across multiple consumer sectors.”
As CEO, Bomhard will get an annual salary of about 1.27 million pounds ($1.7 million) and a pension allowance equivalent to a maximum of 14% of salary and other usual benefits, the company said.
It did not say when he would take up the role but said Cooper had stepped down effective immediately. Dominic Brisby, currently divisional director, Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia, and Joerg Biebernick, divisional director, Europe, will assume the roles of joint interim chief executive officers until Bomhard takes over, the company said.
Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty/Uttaresh. V/Susan Fenton
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