Tobacco world: it’s never a dull place, as shown when Scott Preston rang from Tagon Stores, Voe, Shetland.
Scott had had a call from a bloke from Fouro International (part of the Delta Tobacco Company, based somewhere exotic and abroad: India? Dubai? Scott wasn’t sure).
His caller had read my piece in Convenience Store where Scott had a moan about his Imperial rep no longer visiting as his location was too remote. The bloke said he had traced Scott through his website and offered to supply him with some really cheap-o cigs. He said he wanted to break into the UK market and was ringing round loads of convenience stores. He was working in Euros, but the price was around £1.30 a pack for brands like Marlboro and Lambert & Butler. All legit, he said, with the stock being held in a bonded warehouse in Southampton.
Scott kept him talking (while wondering, scam?) and then asked how he was going to get supplies? He would need to come and get them, said the bloke (800 miles one way! Defo dodgy geography.) How much are we talking about, asked Scott. The guy said a 20 or 40ft container load.
Scott laughed him out of town. In a whole year he would not be able to sell one-quarter of a container load, let alone store it.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Big Cig companies took a dim view. I asked both Imperial and JTI for a response. Imperial has handed the matter over to its anti-illicit trade manager (smashing title, that) and JTI has done the same. So, I hope to bring you more later. Meanwhile, have you had similar offers?