Cigar firm moves into RYO

RitmeesterSCHEDULED to be launched late last month exclusively for the convenience channel through Booker depots across the UK, new RYO brand Bentley represents a major marketing leap for its owner the cigar firm Ritmeester.
Ritmeester field development manager Andy Swain says the development is based on a very clear vision – built on the back of two years of relationship building in the impulse and convenience channel, that has seen it grow sales of the company’s Royal Dutch miniatures cigar range, and on a year’s research and development on Bentley itself.
The firm is looking to establish the brand as one with an attractive quality to price reputation ahead of European Union Tobacco Products Directive changes scheduled for next year, which will see the minimum RYO pack size rise to 30g. Swain reckons the number of RYO SKUs must fall dramatically when the changes are enforced and good value, high quality brands will become especially attractive.
“Everything we’ve done on Bentley is exactly the same as on our cigars,” he said. “We look to deliver a quality product at a good price.
“We think we’ve got a fantastic product that’s the equal of the brand leaders, great packaging that oozes quality, features foil pouches and is resealable to maintain freshness, and great price points at £4.19 for 12.5g and £7.99 for 25g.”
The Bentley launch sees it exclusively in Booker from early autumn through to the end of the year. The arrangement with the country’s largest wholesaler means that the brand could go into nationwide distribution from the start, Swain said.
The brand will be in 150 of the 172 Booker depots, it will feature in 50 promoter days in its first weeks, has what Swain says are industry standard margins, and retailers’ first purchases will be backed by incentives featuring free papers and filters.
The product itself has not gone down the route of combining papers and filters in its pack.
“It was a conscious decision not to do that,” said Swain.
“What we found with papers in packs is that retailers don’t like them because they’d much rather sell the papers and filters independently and make fantastic margins on them.
“I think the RYO market is so confusing at the moment for the consumer. Every packet seems to have a different ‘grammage’ on it. It’s all about price points rather than the quality of the product.
“We’ve gone for traditional 12.5g and 25g packs and we’ve aimed our price points on exactly where we want to be in the market place. We’re certainly not the cheapest.”
He does see price as becoming very important next year when minimum pack size is scheduled to rise to 30g.
He reckons most people in the business are expecting a duty increase of around 2.5% maybe a little bit less if inflation stays low. But he thinks the biggest brands of RYO are likely to cost £12 – £13 or more after the move to 30g.
“With a fair wind we should be able to stay under £10. We hope to come in with a £9.99 price for 30g, that’s going to be crucial.”


New additive-free

SUMMER saw an addition to the Natural American Spirit range of additive-free RYO tobacco with the launch of its new Original Yellow. Brand owner Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company says Original Yellow “introduces a new taste variant for quality-conscious finecut smokers preferring a smoother taste”.
All tobaccos in the blend are grown for the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company as part of its sustainable tobacco cultivation programmes in the US, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece and Turkey.
The firm says it was the first tobacco company to develop earth-friendly tobacco cultivation programs and respect for the environment and sustainability is also carried through all aspects of production and packaging. It says its range delivers the most premium smoking experience to adult smokers.