On February 25, the president of France’s Confederation of Tobacconists, Philippe Coy, discussed his views on the future of tobacconists in France. The industry has suffered a series of setbacks due to anti-tobacco regulations, but Philippe Coy wants to demonstrate his confidence in the industry.
In the last few years, the increase in the price of tobacco has been devastating for tobacconists. Since 2003, 500 shops have closed their doors every year. Another (quite positive) reason for this has been that many former smokers have transitioned to vaping. Illegal tobacco trafficking has also led to the drop in sales, especially in France’s border regions.
The year 2018 was particularly hard for tobacconists. On the eve of a new price increase, 24,500 are deeply concerned about the future of the industry. For Philippe Coy, the diversification of the tobacconist industry is essential if tobacconists hope to survive, especially because the price of tobacco will continue to increase to 10 Euros per packet by 2020.
Versatility continues to exist
Conscious of the challenges that the tobacconist industry is facing, the French government has put a few measures in place to help alleviate some of the challenges. In February 2018, the minister Gérald Darmanin agreed to a 0.8% margin increase for tobacconists, whose revenue has dropped by over 15%. In Philippe Coy’s opinion, this is an important decision that can serve as a safety net for businesses on the brink of disaster.
During the interview, Philippe Coy recalled the important role that tobacconists plays in rural regions. Tobacconists do not only exist to sell cigarettes, but are also integral parts of small village life.
Today, tobacconists sell food and other products, and also serve as an intermediaries for the local city hall, often times as a pick-up point for packages. More services should continue to arise in the next years in the hopes that if tobacconists diversify their business, they will be able to survive.