Imperial Tobacco is proud and delighted to continue its sponsorship of the Best Tobacco Merchandising category in the Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards in 2005.

Tobacco legislation has significantly restricted most forms of communicating with adult smokers in the UK so tobacco merchandising is now more relevant than ever.

Of the traditional convenience channels, forecourts have been at the cutting edge of convenience format development. They have used internal expertise and have forged partnerships with other convenience players and developed the categories where they were once weak. While doing so, they have managed to maintain and improve their core categories such as tobacco.

The importance of the tobacco category to forecourts cannot be ignored as it contributes hugely to store turnover and is a proven footfall driver and impulse purchase generator.

Forecourts accounted for 12.3% of cigarette sales last year, a figure which increased by 3.4% on the previous year. Lambert & Butler King Size is the number one forecourt brand with a share of almost 15% of cigarette sales.

Iain Watkins, UK trade communications manager for Imperial Tobacco, says: “Keeping up with trends in the marketplace is vital, and forecourt retailers need to regularly review the tobacco range they stock. Avoiding out-of stocks is essential as the cost of losing an adult smoker as a customer can be significant. With their tobacco purchase in forecourts, 14% of adult smokers also buy a newspaper, 13% also buy confectionery, 9% also buy milk and 3% also buy bread.

“Indeed, forecourt operators should note that 53% of adult smokers who can’t find their usual brand in store will leave without buying anything, and after three failed purchasing attempts they will permanently shop elsewhere.”

Imperial Tobacco is hugely committed to supporting trade customers at all levels and operates the UK’s largest sales force, around 450, while also offering a dedicated trade website which can be accessed at

Iain Watkins adds: “Our sales representatives should be viewed as impartial category consultants, and their expertise should be utilised to help retailers manage the tobacco category in their stores. They can offer credible advice and information on all aspects of the tobacco category, including legislation.”