As I reported in our 10 March issue, Jayesh Patel (Classic News, Northampton) had £1,500-worth of Philip Morris stock of Marlboro and Chesterfield that was selling so slowly he knew he would be stuck with £600-700 in unsold stock by the changeover deadline of 20 May.
Whereas JTI, BAT and Imperial had all taken back branded stock, Philip Morris wasn’t playing ball.
Jayesh and his accountant were mystified as to how to go about claiming the duty back because, after all, the tax is paid by the consumer, not the middleman who is merely the tax collector.
I’ve spoken to Jayesh twice since to check on his progress. By the end of March he still had £600-worth left - a friend had taken some stock off of him and it was to be hoped that the Philip Morris stock would stand out better now that the rest of the gantry had nothing but plain packs.
By late April he had got rid of the rolling tobacco and had further good news. “The rep from PML came in and said we will swap it!”
He had £300-worth left.
But he also raised another issue, this time with Booker. “Tobacco, per outer, is £3 more than from Bestway and cigarettes are £1 more. So a packet of Benson & Hedges for example, is 10p more. We have to remain competitive - the supermarkets will be cheaper.”