The West Indian Tobacco Company (WITCO) experienced a year of “superior delivery” in 2013, accumulating a before-tax profit of $556 million and a $411 million after-tax profit for 2013.
The announcement of the company’s performance in 2013 was made at its annual general meeting (AGM), held at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad), Port of Spain yesterday.
Speaking with reporters following the meeting, the company’s managing director, Jean-Pierre du Coudray, attributed the company’s performance to investments made over the years.
However, he admitted that the impending amendment to the 2010 Tobacco Control Bill would bring changes to the tobacco business.
Du Coudray explained that when the bill was passed in 2010 it impacted the way the company did business, but it had good infrastructure in place to keep the business going.
“We were able to identify what our new reality would look like and with any new reality you have new opportunities. And opportunities presented themselves and we were well positioned to take advantage.
It is going to change our reality just like 2010 changed our reality in the way we do business; it changed a lot of things but because our business is so resilient, our brand is so resilient and our people are so resilient...what we were able to do is find the opportunities in that new reality and turn it into positive,” he said.
He pointed out that the difference this time is that the regulations don’t come into effect until 2015, so the company actually has a lot more time to prepare.
And because the company’s biggest issue was a lack of communication to the general public about the bill, which led to people jumping to conclusions and making incorrect assumptions, the company is going to have a proactive communication platform this year with customers and key stakeholders so when the legislation comes into effect in January 2015, everyone will be on the same page.
“In the publication it was reflected that it goes live on January 9, 2015. We will have to actually start preparing a couple weeks, maybe a month before, to get ready to do the implementation,” he added.
And although there will not be any changes to the actual product, the packaging of the product will be different.
“One of the changes is...we move away from a text health warning to a graphic health warning from January 9, 2015.”
Du Coudray said WITCO has no problems with legislation because they support it but any legislation put in place should be balanced, sensible and have the approach that gives all stakeholders a say in any final outcome.
He said so far the approach by past and present governments has allowed for a good degree of interaction.