2015 marked the first year that volume sales of RYO tobacco declined in the UK. While the phenomenal growth recorded in the category at the beginning of the review period can be attributed mainly to consumers being forced to look for cheaper alternatives to cigarettes during the economic recession and during the post-recession years, volume sales of RYO tobacco recorded a 1% decline in 2015 due to ongoing fall being seen in the total UK smoking population, with overall smoking prevalence standing at 18% in 2015 amidst growing interest in vapour products in the country. This has had a negative effect on sales of all tobacco categories, with many smokers switching to vaping not only in an attempt to improve their health and lifestyle but also as the cost of vapour products is far more economical for heavy smokers than buying cigarettes or buying even the cheaper option of RYO tobacco.
Gallagher Ltd remained the leading player in smoking tobacco for the second consecutive year in 2015, recording a 43% volume share, placing it four percentage points ahead of its major rival Imperial Group Plc. Gallagher’s core smoking tobacco brand Amber Leaf has been the main contributor of the company’s strong growth in recent years as the brand has continued to strengthen its position as the leading brand in RYO tobacco, recording 3% growth in volume sales in 2015 as it increased its volume share on RYO tobacco to 29%.
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