Tobacco firm Altadis to close last Spanish cigarette factory

19th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Altadis, a Franco-Spanish offshoot of Britain-based Imperial Tobacco, said Tuesday it planned to close its last cigarette factory in Spain as sales in the country go up in smoke.

The group's cigarette sales in Spain have slumped more than 45 percent in volume over the past five years due in part to regulatory pressure such as "anti-tobacco laws, smoking bans, a rise in health measures, plain packaging," a spokesman who refused to be named told AFP.

"A considerable rise in illegal sales, caused in large part by the economic crisis" also contributed to the slump, and a drop in exports to key Middle-Eastern markets such as conflict-ridden Iraq and Syria had an impact too, the group added.

Spain's economy, the fourth largest of the eurozone, went through years of on-off recession before starting to recover in 2014.

Altadis said it aims to close its cigarette factory in the northern La Rioja region by June 30, prioritising early retirement or voluntary redundancy for the 471 workers affected.

It's "the last cigarette factory belonging to Altadis in Spain," the spokesman said, adding that the group still had a cigar and cigarillos plant in the northern Cantabria region.

Altadis was formed through the merger of Spain's Tabacalera and France's Seita in 1999, and the group was subsequently taken over by Imperial Tobacco in 2008.

The firm had already announced it would axe nearly 10 percent of its staff in Spain in 2013 in the face of a sales slump.

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© 2016 AFP

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