RICHMOND, Va. — Altria Group Inc. kicked off the new year by acquiring Nat Sherman and immediately began integrating the super-premium cigarettes and premium cigars company into its fold.
"Nat Sherman has an excellent and differentiated brand portfolio, which complements the brands in Altria's smokeable products segment. Nat Sherman brands will benefit from the retail distribution, brand management and adult tobacco consumer engagement expertise of Altria's companies," said Altria President and CEO Marty Barrington during the company's earnings call on Feb. 1.
"Integration and business plans are already well underway, and we welcome the Nat Sherman team of employees to the Altria family of companies," he added.
He explained that the deal adds a talent workforce and complementary brands to Altria's portfolio.
"It's a small share position. It's much more of a niche position. But we believe that when we combine their talented people and brands with the system that we have in terms of retail distribution and brand expertise that we can really make this grow quite nicely," Barrington said. "It's a very nice addition to the smokeable segment for us and we're really excited about it."
According to the chief executive, Altria is still working on the distribution and marketing plans for Nat Sherman.
"They've got very nice brands and they are differentiated from the current portfolio on smokeable. They tend to be sold a lot, as you probably know, in tobacco stores and some other niche locations. There's no reason that they can't be distributed more widely and I think that would definitely help the brand," Barrington said, explaining that the deal is still recent.
"I think when you put them in a sales force, like the one that Altria has, you would expect for there to be a good distribution growth there. And we're very excited about it, but we're just not in a position to lay out sort of the strategy for 2017. We've just really closed on it, although they're fast added over there," he added.
Richmond-based Altria's wholly owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., Nu Mark LLC, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd., and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. Altria holds an equity investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev.
The brand portfolios of Altria's tobacco operating companies include Marlboro, Black & Mild, Copenhagen, Skoal, MarkTen and Green Smoke.