Sales of Bulgarian-made cigarettes decreased drastically on the domestic market in January 2012, according to figures from Bulgartabac and Kings Tobacco.
Bulgartabac Holding, which was privatised in September 2011, has lost market share steadily, from more than 74 per cent in 2007 to 37 per cent at the end of 2010, Capital Daily said.
Plovdiv-based company Kings Tobacco, bought in 2009 by a business closed to Vinprom Peshtera alcohol distillery and manufacturer, gained 5.7 per cent market share in its first year and grew to 14.7 per cent in 2011 but recently lost two per cent, the report said.
According to the report, a reason could be that Kings was no longer keenly interested in developing their brands because they indirectly are part of the new ownership of Bulgartabac. However, there was no confirmation for this claim and it was denied by the Plovdiv company, the report said.
Milen Shterev, marketing manager of Kings Tobacco, said that the company produced mainly for export. He said that while there had been a slight decline of market share domestically, steps would be taken to correct this.
About 80 per cent of Bulgartabac’s revenue comes from exports.
Foreign cigarette manufacturers either had increased market share or at least had maintained their existing positions.
Philip Morris was the fastest-growing, followed by Greece’s Karelia, whose eponymous brand was the best-selling in Bulgaria in March 2011, followed by the former market leader, Bulgartabac’s Victory.
The report said that the reason for this trend was that the foreign brands were close in price to their Bulgarian rivals and in some cases even cheaper.
Legal sales of cigarettes in Bulgaria in 2011 were estimated to add up to more than two billion leva (about a billion euro).