A New Generation of Tobacco Products—Made in Greece

MAY-JUNE 2017|BY RAYMOND MATERA
Christos Harpantidis, Papastratos President and CEO, discusses the company’s new 300-million Euro investment in Greece.

Papastratos recently announced a new investment in Greece. What does this entail?

This investment is true to our vision that with everything we are doing we want to leave a piece of future behind, but also true to our and PMI’s commitment to a smoke-free future. If I may say so, it is huge – especially by Greek standards – amounting to 300 million Euros. Beginning immediately, it involves the expansion and conversion of our facilities in Aspropyrgos to produce a new generation of tobacco products, in particular heatsticks for IQOS. As of January 2018, Greece will become PMI’s third production center for these innovative tobacco products worldwide, after Switzerland and Italy. Once the project is completed, we will be producing exclusively the new products, at a capacity of 20 billion heatsticks annually, and exporting to more than 30 countries across the globe.

What impact will this investment have on the Greek economy, especially in relation to jobs?

The benefits from the investment will be substantial, not only for the national economy but also for Greek society. In relation to jobs, we are creating 400 new, direct and indirect jobs,in addition to the roughly 800 which we already offer, and to the 250 new positions created during the last few months exclusively to support our activity regarding IQOS. Additionally, as the vast volume of the production will be exported, there will be a boost of exports. Finally, through this investment we will continue to support Greek tobacco farming, since a significant amount of the tobacco contained in the blend of the heatsticks is Greek oriental tobacco.

Tell us more about the product that the new lines will produce and where it will be consumed?

Since 2008, PMI has been designing a smoke-free future, through the development of innovative, reduced risk products (RRPs). For this purpose, it has hired more than 400 scientists and experts at its new state of art R&D facilities in Neuchatel, Switzerland and has invested over 3 billion dollars in research, development and scientific substantiation of these products. In our factory, we will be producing tobacco sticks for the most advanced of these products, IQOS, that heats tobacco, rather than burns it. It is noteworthy that already more than 1.8 million adult smokers worldwide have switched to IQOS. By the end of 2017, IQOS will be present in more than 30 countries.

How will this affect the tobacco growers in Greece?

It’s been 86 years now that we are actively supporting Greek tobacco growers. Papastratos and PMI are buying over 50% of the Greek oriental tobacco production, thus ensuring stability and security for tens of thousands of tobacco growers. This will not stop. As I mentioned, Greek oriental tobacco occupies an important proportion in the blend of the heatsticks for IQOS. Therefore, we will continue to buy Greek oriental tobacco and export it all around the globe.

Choosing Greece at this time for such a major investment requires a strategic plan. Why are you comfortable investing in Greece?

You are right. Investments of such a large scale are not implemented without a strategic plan. Truth is, we fought hard for this investment to be made in Greece and not elsewhere with a clearly friendlier investment environment. Three factors had a decisive role in this huge effort: The important geographical position of Greece, the experience and expertise of our employees and the top quality of Greek oriental tobacco. We truly believe in Greece, its potential and its future, hence this investment, which comes on top of more than 700 million Euros we have invested the past 14 years, is proof of our genuine commitment to leave a piece of future behind.

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