Philip Morris Limited (PML) has launched its own field force in a bid to better support retailers and its products in the run up to the tobacco display ban next year.

It is the first time in more than 10 years that the Marlboro and Chesterfield manufacturer has invested in a dedicated field force.

The new approach would help PML boost its brands in the UK and enable it to better market a new product launch set for later this year, managing director Martin Inkster said.

Imperial Tobacco has been distributing PML products for the past decade.

“We are grateful to ITL and their team for the support they have provided to us. However, the imminent dark market and challenging trading environment has required us to review our strategy going forward,” Inkster added.

“This led us to trial a dedicated field force in Manchester which successfully increased our market share in less than one year and we plan to build on these learnings to further develop long term, sustainable trade partnerships. Managing our own field force will enable us to better support retailers and the trade through consistent and effective brand engagement.  

“By improved allocation of resources we can ensure we’re adding value and growing retailer loyalty to the mutual benefit of all parties.”

Members of the PML field force will begin calling on retailers in the next few weeks.

Imperial’s distribution, logistics and general trade sales support of PML’s products will continue until 31 December 2015 when the agreement expires.