Imperial Tobacco names Alison Cooper as CEO designate

Author: By James Thompson

Mr Davis, who will be 60 next year, said: “I think the time is right for me to move up and let Alison take up the reins and take Imperial Tobacco to even greater heights. Alison has the right skill set, and it is great when you can have this type of succession.”

He added: “I am going to recharge my batteries in the business world. I would love to think that I could someday become a chairman,” although ? he joked ? not at Imperial Tobacco. Ms Cooper is the fifth woman to be named CEO of a FTSE 100 company, joining Dame Marjorie Scardino of publisher Pearson, Angela Ahrendts at luxury fashion retailer Burberry, Cynthia Carroll at the mining group Anglo American, and Katherine Garrett-Cox of Alliance Trust.

For the 12 months to 30 September, Imperial Tobacco delivered a 52 per cent uplift in pre-tax profits to £945m, on revenues up by 29 per cent at £26.5bn.

Mr Davis said: “We have driven sales across our portfolio, with growth in our key international cigarette brands Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes and JPS, supported by good gains from our regional and local brands.” Imperial Tobacco slashed its debt pile by £2bn before the impact of exchange rates over the year, taking its adjusted net debt down to £10.8bn. The tobacco and cigarette maker did this by reducing its working capital by £1bn and enhancing its cash generation. Boosted by its acquisition of Altadis, the Franco-Spanish tobacco firm, last year, Imperial Tobacco delivered a 10 per cent increase in cigarette volumes to 322.2bn. Stripping out Altadis, its volumes declined 2 per cent in the second half, but this was ahead of the market. It raised its dividend per share 16 per cent to 73p.

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