Alison Cooper, the chief executive officer of tobacco giant Imperial Brands PLC, has announced that she plans to step down as CEO and leave the board once a successor has been found. Cooper, 53, has been with the company for 20 years, nine as its CEO. The announcement came one week after Imperial announced a “marked slowdown” in the growth of vaping products in the United States that would result in the company’s business growing “below expectations.”
Imperial is one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, and along with making vaping products, cigarettes and other tobacco products, it owns a major share of the premium cigar market. The company owns half of Habanos S.A., Cuba’s cigar company, and is the parent company of Tabacalera USA, which oversees Altadis U.S.A., one of the biggest producers of cigars for the U.S. market, with such brands as Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo. Imperial is looking for a buyer for its cigar division, part of a £2 billion ($2.44 billion) divestment program.
Imperial, which is headquartered in Bristol, United Kingdom, had revenues of £30.5 billion ($37 billion) in fiscal 2018, and net profits of £1.4 billion ($1.7 billion), flat from the year prior. The company has more than 33,000 employees, and is expected to release fiscal 2019 results in November.