Global tobacco company Philip Morris International has reportedly closed the entire UK portfolio of its recently opened IQOS shops.
According to The Times, some 16 IQOS sites had been launched across the UK, with Philip Morris, owner of the group, claiming in June 2019 that hundreds more would follow.
The product works at a “reduced risk” to combustible cigarettes as it heats, rather than burns, tobacco.
In turn, IQOS has reportedly been touted as an “important” part of Morris’ plan for a “smoke-free” future, with the tobacco group aiming to gain over half of its net revenue from non-combustible products by 2025.
However, one source told the publication that PMI had “quietly decided to close” the IQOS shops as they failed to gain traction in the UK, leading to PMI spending “millions on a failed retail strategy”.
The source added: “This obviously raises questions about the commercial success of IQOS in the UK and if there is a demand for the product in this country.
“PMI will argue that they no longer need the stores in the UK, online sales are growing and they are now in the major supermarkets in the UK, but it’s still a big U-turn to close your retail footprint in the UK after just 18 months of operation.”
As a result of the closures, a reported 60 agency retail staff have been made redundant, according to the source.
Retail Sector has contacted PMI for comment.