No cigarette manufacturer is going to see a bright side to going dark but Ian Hughes, affinity development manager for specialist insurance brokers Bluefin, is positively upbeat about it.

“We’re trying to convince retailers to think beyond cigarette sales - it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade their security.”

He reasons as follows: “In terms of retail the major theft you get is tobacco. If you are ram raided, which will typically do £12K-worth of damage to the building, they can be in and out in seconds, scooping £1,500-worth of cigarettes into a bin bag which is light enough to run away with.”

He says that going dark reduces sales on average by 5%. But using the space effectively can result in higher margins.

If you can afford a single dispense unit such as Cherwell’s, only one pack at a time can be accessed - and that goes for the crooks too. They’ll be there all night trying to pinch the goods. So overnight security is vastly improved. And with an overhead gantry system such as Expottuto’s Servertab, you have all that space that the old gantry took up to display better margin lines.

Bluefin is currently negotiating with insurers to reduce premiums for those who take such measures.

I know Ian Hughes is Mr. Insurance, but his points are very good: the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors etc, just want to sell more ciggies. None of them consider security as part of the mix.