British American Tobacco Zimbabwe Holdings Limited (BAT Zimbabwe) has registered a fall of 55% in first quarter sales of pricier or top market cigarettes such as Newbury.

Presenting its report for the period under review, the company said lower market or cheaper brands, such as Everest and Madison, rose by 10%. However, the cheapest cigarette, Ascot, went down 43%.

The Company said it continued to face an adverse trading environment during the quarter ended 31 March 2021, primarily attributable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown measures instituted to contain the spread of the pandemic.

As a result, BAT said this led to a decrease in activity across all sectors of the economy and depressed consumer spending.

Company Chairperson, Lovemore Manatsa said the economic environment is expected to improve from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Government’s drive for vaccinations and economic activity appears to be steadily returning to normal.

He said Zimbabwe’s reduced inflation rate since the month of February 2021 coupled with the continued access to foreign currency by companies from the weekly Foreign Currency Auction are reflective of the improving macro-economic factors.

Manatsa added that BAT remains confident that its brand portfolio and route to consumer/ market is sustainable to enable the business to deliver value growth to our shareholders.

BAT is the leading tobacco manufacturer in Zimbabwe by market share. BAT Zimbabwe is part of the British American Tobacco Group of Companies (BAT) and has been operating in Zimbabwe for over 80 years.

BAT is a leading, multi-category consumer goods business. Founded in 1902, today the Group is a truly global company it employs more than 53,000 people worldwide, operates in over 180 markets and has factories in more than 40 countries.

The Group’s global business is divided into four regions and covers over 150 million consumers and 11 million retail points of sale, with a balanced presence in both high-growth emerging markets and developed markets.