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PMI launches first African IQOS store

30 Jul 2019. To increase demand in Africa for its alternative heated tobacco product IQOS, the South African unit of cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris International Inc opened its first flagship store in Johannesburg on 25 July, Reuters reported.

South Africa is the first and only market in Africa where Philip Morris sells IQOS. “We are bringing the first experience of commercializing this technology on the African continent and the objective is, based on this experience over time, roll it out in the rest of the continent,” Philip Morris South Africa Managing Director Marcelo Nico was quoted as saying.

According to the report, the store in Sandton offers Philip Morris access to African tourists and businessmen visiting Africa’s richest square mile, allowing it to use its retail footprint as a springboard to expand in the rest of the continent. “If you look at Sandton, it’s the business hub of South Africa and Africa as well so it’s the one place where we need to start with our permanent flagship store,” Nico told Reuters.

Philip Morris, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, opened a pilot store in Cape Town in late 2017 that ran for about a year to test the market. Over time, Philip Morris plans to return to Cape Town with a permanent store, the report said.

The company began selling IQOS in South Africa in 2017 with the affordable 2.4 model and later in November last year launched IQOS 3 and MULTI.

According to Reuters, an estimated 70 per cent of South African adults who have switched to the product since its launch have been fully converted to IQOS, the company said in 2018.