But the days of Gauloises, those strong cigarettes not for the faint of heart, are now numbered.

Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, which through its Seita subsidiary owns Gauloises, announced a restructuring today that will close plants in Britain and France, with an expected loss of some 900 jobs.

The French plant, near Nantes, produces Gauloises blondes, or light cigarettes, and Gitanes. Production of the traditional Gauloise shifted to Spain almost a decade ago, which, according to Reuters, makes today s move symbolic.

Symbolic is an apt word.

Bloomberg notes that Seita, which merged with a Spanish company in 1999 to form a concern that was eventually acquired by Imperial, held a production and distribution monopoly granted by the finance chief of Louis XIV.

The Gauloise brand dates back to the early 1900s, kind of a foul thing that would eventually lead to a filtered cigarette and, ultimately, the lighter version.

Not that one should romanticize smoking, but Reuters notes the iconic nature of the cigarette

Philosopher Jean Paul Sartre haunted Left Bank cafes in postwar Paris with a pen in one hand and a Gauloise in the other Included in French combat rations during World War Two, the light blue pack of Gauloises with the military helmet logo and working class panache remained the most popular brand in France until the 1970s, when lighter, sweeter American brands like Marlboro took over.

Imperial, which has no connection to the Canadian company of the same name, said today that the British and French plants would be shuttered over the next two years, part of a cost cutting program the tobacco company says will save some 300 million a year beginning in the fall of 2018.

The proposed closures reflect declining industry volumes in Europe, impacted by tough economic conditions, increasing regulation and excise and growth in illicit trade, Imperial said in announcing the shutdowns.

Production has been affected at the Nottingham and Nantes sites, which now utilise less than half their manufacturing capacity.

The Nantes plant employs more than 300 workers, with capacity for 21 billion cigarettes annually, though only 9 billion are expected to be turned out this year. Production will be moved elsewhere in Europe.

  • Britain ready to ban all branding on cigarette packs

Home sales inch up
Canada s realtors blame winter s frost for a sales increase of just 1 per cent in March from February.

Having said that, last month s showing was 4.9 per cent better than a year earlier, The Globe and Mail s Tara Perkins reports.

Average prices, meanwhile, climbed 6 per cent in March from a year ago, while the MLS home price index, deemed a better measure, rose 5.2 per cent.

Sales rose in more than half of the cities monitored, the Canadian Real Estate Association said, led by the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

New listings inched up just 0.5 per cent on a month over month basis.

There s little doubt that winter s icy grip prompted many potential home buyers to put off house hunting, said CREA s chief economist Gregory Klump.

That said, we ll have to wait and see what happens in April because while overall sales improved in March, there was little evidence of a flood of pent up demand being released.

  • Tara Perkins Existing home sales top forecasts as spring selling season begins
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Manufacturing climbs
Canada s factories have marked a milestone, as sales climbed in February to their highest level since before the recession.

Manufacturing sales rose 1.4 per cent in the second month of the year, Statistics Canada said today, and have no increased in eight of the last 10 months.

The sales level was the highest since July 2008, the peak that was reached before the last recession began, the federal agency said.

February s increase to shipments of $51.2 billion were led by transportation equipment and the energy sector, notably oil and coal.

Notable, too, is that the increase was centred in the manufacturing heartland of the province of Ontario.

On a straight volume basis, sales rise 0.8 per cent, so it’s not as rosy as that headline gain suggests.

“In volume terms the series advanced a more muted 0.8 per cent, reflecting the strong price trends we had seen in February, leaving the overall real trend in manufacturing still flat from early 2012,” said Nick Exarhos of CIBC World Markets.

Unfilled orders, meanwhile climbed 16.5 per cent to $91.6 billion, marking the fastest monthly pace since Statistics Canada began tracking the numbers in the early 1990s.

Unfilled orders for the manufacturing sector have risen substantially over the past four years, it added.

The level reached in February was 79.6 per cent higher than the post recession low of $51 billion posted in November 2009.

Inventories increased by 1.1 per cent, while the inventory to sales ratio inched down to 1.41.

  • Canadian factories beat sales forecast, climb 1.4 per cent

Walter to idle coal mines
A major U.S. based coal producer plans to temporarily halt its Canadian operations, dealing a blow to the province of British Columbia.

Walter Energy Inc. said today it will immediately suspend work at its Wolverine mine, and expects to idle another by July, putting some 700 workers on temporary layoff, The Globe and Mail’s Brent Jang reports.

“These layoffs are particularly unfortunate because our employees have worked very hard to keep these mines competitive in the face of daunting market conditions,” said chief executive officer Walter Scheller III.

“These coal reserves remain valuable assets,” he added in a statement. “However, given the current met coal pricing environment, our best course of action at this time is to idle these operations until we can achieve reasonable value from these reserves.”

  • Brent Jang Walter Energy suspends B.C. coal operations on slumping prices

U.S. inflation on rise
Consumer prices in the United States are picking up the pace.

The monthly inflation reading for March came in today at 0.2 per cent, and the annual rate at 1.5 per cent, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

So called core prices, which strip out volatile prices, rose 1.7 per cent on an annual basis.

“Over all, prices look generally tame outside of some categories, namely food,” said senior economist Jennifer Lee of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

“Note that, on a three and six month basis, prices are creeping higher, which is something to keep an eye on but with wage growth still modest and lots of retail competition, inflation should remain in check for now.”

All of which means there’s little to get the Federal Reserve particularly anxious.

  • Food, rental housing bump up U.S. consumer inflation
  • Ouch You know gas is soaring when it takes 18 seconds to pump $20.60

DSW buys Town Shoes stake
Another fast growing U.S. retailer is setting the stage to launch in Canada, The Globe and Mail’s Marina Strauss reports.

DSW Inc., a leading shoe chain known for selling high profile brands from Nike to Nine West at discount prices, is buying a 44 per cent stake in Canadian rival Town Shoes for $62 million, with options to buy the rest after four years.

The deal gives DSW, which stands for Designer Shoe Warehouse, a way to enter Canada in a market that has stumped some other U.S. chains. DSW has chosen to come here with a domestic partner Town Shoes, which is familiar with the local landscape and can help DSW in setting up retail locations, logistics and other operations.

  • Marina Strauss U.S. footwear retailer DSW steps into Canada with Town Shoes stake

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Business ticker

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  • GE’s Immelt may exit before expected tenure ends report
  • Johnson & Johnson tops forecasts, helped by new medicines
  • U.K. inflation falls to lowest in over 4 years in March

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Winfield (cigarette) – wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cheap european cigarettes

Winfield’s market dominance encouraged the development of menthol and lower tar varieties. Differing tar strengths are easily distinguished within the Winfield brand family by the pack colour i.e. the strongest variety come in predominantly dark red packaging, the menthol variety in green etc. The differing tar strengths once gave the cigarettes different “official” names. The strongest variety, containing on average 16 mg of tar were Winfield Filters. The next strongest variety, containing on average 12 mg of tar were Winfield Extra Mild. However due to the distinctive packaging the brand was colloquially referred to by the colour. A recent settlement between the ACCC and the tobacco industry in Australia resulted in the withdrawal of such descriptors as “Mild” “Extra Mild” and “Light” in relation to cigarettes, on the grounds that this may mislead smokers into thinking one cigarette was safer than another. This has mirrored recent developments in the United Kingdom as well. Other brands under BATA’s control have opted to use “approved” descriptors such as “Smooth” “Rich” and “Fine”, that the ACCC has approved as not misleading. However with the Winfield brand BATA has opted to use the pack colouring as the descriptor. Thus the brand’s differing products are now officially known by names which they had been colloquially known anyway, i.e. Winfield Red, Winfield Blue, etc.

Winfield entered the Australian market in 1972 in the common pack size of 20’s. They were the first brand in Australia to launch a pack size of 25’s and used this to convey their image of being good value to the everyday Australian. Typical advertisements at the time noted that Winfield was “5 smokes ahead of the rest”. Winfield remain available in Australia today in 20’s or 25’s.

In 1998, a “Deluxe Soft Pack 20” variant on the brand was released. These cigarettes were aimed at a more premium market, and differed in taste and strength from the traditional Winfields available in packs of 25. Winfield Deluxe Filters for example, contained 14 mg of tar, whereas the traditional Winfield Filter contained (and contains) 16 mg. This variant attracted a disappointing market share, and was consequently withdrawn from the market. Soft pack Winfields were relaunched in 2000, and have become the best selling soft pack cigarette on the Australian market. Apart from the packaging though, there is nothing to differentiate them from their hard pack counterparts. These have been discontinued in 2008, with information distributed to the trade in February announcing this decision. In 2006, a new product extension was made available in the Australian market, with a number of varieties being released in a charcoal filter. The packaging for these products varies from the traditional products with a predominantly brushed silver package and coloured lettering indicating the strength (Blue, Gold, Sky Blue or White).

Position in the Australian market edit

Winfield is the dominant market leader within Australia, earning the affectionate nickname of “Winnie Blues” (blues being substituted for ones desired strength) with AC Nielsen figures revealing a share of around 32% (offtake) in 2006 nearly double its closest rival, Longbeach, which is manufactured by Philip Morris. BATA continues to push the boundaries of legal advertising to promote their flagship brand. “Limited Edition” packs featuring small advertisements and a reusable steel cigarette case are some of the tactics BATA have used to promote their brand. Cigarette advertising that originates within Australia has been banned since 1993, on all forms of media except for the packs themselves. Some states had legislation forbidding “giveaways” or “enticements” to buy (such as a free lighter or an ashtray) was circumvented by making the steel case the packaging. If the steel case contained a normal Winfield pack inside, the company would have been in breach of the relevant act. The case, however, contained cigarettes wrapped in foil, thus the steel case was the cigarette packet, rather than an enticement to buy a packet of cigarettes. In fiscal 2004 05, Winfield was the third most valuable grocery brand in Australia. Sales exceeded A$750 million in total value in fiscal 2004 05.

Footnotes edit