In the past two years, there has been a surge of interest in electronic cigarettes, not only by the general public, but also by big tobacco companies. As the number of smokers continues to trend downward worldwide, major tobacco players have taken notice of the booming e-cig industry and taken steps to cash in on the vaping craze. According to a February 3 press release, Altria is the latest big tobacco company to take the plunge into vaping with an acquisition of Green Smoke E-cigarettes for $110 million with an additional $20 million in incentives.
Altria is one of the leading tobacco companies in the United States, along with Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds. As the full owner of Philip Morris, Altria is ultimately behind popular cigarette brands like Marlboro, Parliament, and Virginia Slims. The company first ventured into electronic cigarettes by creating Nu Mark, which launched the MarkTen disposable e-cig last year. Now they are moving further into the world of e-cigs by acquiring Green Smoke, one of the most popular e-cig brands among current vapers.
Marty Barrington, CEO and Chairman of Altria, feels that the acquisition is an important step for the company. “Nu Mark’s entry into the e-vapor category with its MarkTen product was an important development in Altria’s innovation strategy. Adding Green Smoke’s significant e-vapor expertise and experience, along with its supply chain, product lines and customer service, will complement Nu Mark’s capabilities and enhance its competitive position,” said Barrington. “Further, Green Smoke’s culture of innovation and history of producing high-quality products are consistent with Altria’s culture.”
Green Smoke is one of the oldest e-cig brands that has remained popular as hundreds of competing e-cigs entered the marketplace. Since 2008, Green Smoke has sold e-cigs with revenue for 2013 topping out at an impressive $40 million. Their current product line includes disposable and rechargeable e-cigarettes with a variety of cartridge flavors ranging from traditional tobacco to “Mocha Mist” or “Vanilla Dreams”.
As Green Smoke transitions into a new season under Altria’s ownership, they intend to remain true to their current infrastructure and continue with key management positions that have already been very successful. The full acquisition should be complete by the second quarter of this year.
Green Smoke’s CEO, Robert Levitz, said that the brand was happy to team up with Altria. “We are very pleased to be joining the Altria family of companies,” he said. “We are dedicated to innovation and believe joining Nu Mark with help us deepen that expertise and create new opportunities for our customers, our employees and our products.”
By teaming up with Altria, Green Smoke will gain access to more resources to better their business and increase their opportunities to make the brand widely available to American smokers seeking an alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
Do you think this is a positive move for Green Smoke?