British firm to shut French cigarette factory

A British tobacco company will close one of its factories in France that makes Gauloises cigarettes, meaning the signature French brand will be made almost exclusively abroad.

British firm to shut French cigarette factory
One of France's iconic cigarette brands will soon mostly be made abroad. Photo: Der Wunderbare Mandarin/Flickr

Imperial Tobacco on Tuesday announced the closure of factories in Britain and France with the loss of 900 jobs, citing declining sales in Europe, tougher anti-smoking measures and the growth of contraband sales.

The two factories concerned are at Carquefou, near Nantes in western France, where 327 people are employed, and  Nottingham in central England, which has 540 staff.

The company told unions at its French subsidiary Seita that a total of 366 jobs will go in France, where it employs 1,150 people, and 130 new jobs will be created in Poland.

The move means Gauloises, one of the most famous brands owned by Imperial, will be almost exclusively produced outside France. 

The company's portfolio also includes Davidoff cigarettes, Golden Virginia loose tobacco and Rizla rolling papers.

 In a statement, Imperial which employs 35,000 people in 160 countries, said it was undertaking "a number of restructuring projects to strengthen the group's competitive position."

It said the measures, including the two factory closures, would be implemented over the next two years.

"The proposed closures reflect declining industry volumes in Europe, impacted by tough economic conditions, increasing regulation and excise and growth in illicit trade," the statement said.

"Production has been affected at the Nottingham and Nantes sites, which now utilize less than half their manufacturing capacity."

Imperial's chief executive, Alison Cooper, added: "These projects are an essential part of securing the sustainable future of the business.

"The prospect of job losses is always regrettable and we will be doing all we can to support employees and ensure that they are treated in a fair and responsible manner."

The company said the cuts would deliver savings of £300 million a year (360 million euros, $500 million) from September 2018.

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Paris rolls out brigade to force Parisians to clean up act

Mayor Anne Hidalgo presented her plan on Monday for the creation of an "anti-incivility brigade" to crack down on daily infractions.

Paris rolls out brigade to force Parisians to clean up act
Photo: AFP

Tourists coming to Paris with heads full of dazzling images of the City of Light, capital of fashion and all things elegant and refined, can sometimes be a bit shocked by the reality of the city

Cigarettes casually tossed onto the sidewalk, piles of dog poo on pavements, and drunken people urinating in the streets late at night are unfortunately common sights.

But Mayor Anne Hidalgo is aiming for Paris to clean up its act, not least considering the use of public space in the city has been on the rise since 2000, thanks in part to the development of the banks of the River Seine and the canals.

On October 1st of 2015 the city started giving out fines of €68 for tossing cigarette butts (with more than 2,000 already handed out), but now Paris is going even further, upping the number of city officers that can write up tickets for daily infractions or “incivilities”. 

Apart from tossing cigarettes in the street, these “incivilities” include unauthorized garbage dumping, public urination, not cleaning up after your dog and noise levels at night, to name a few. 

The anti-incivility brigade

This new “anti-incivility brigade” comprising of 1,900 officers, will replace the Prevention and Protection Direction (DPP) which was previously in charge. 1,200 officers will come from the current DPP, but the other 700 officers won’t necessarily be new recruits.

Instead, there will be a shuffling-around of officers from different city services such as parks and gardens and the cleanliness division, to make up the rest of this new unit. 

They’ll hire 90 new recruits to fill the remaining spots.

These new officers will all be in uniform and some will be armed with batons and tear gas.

Some 320 officers will be part of a “mobile brigade” that will roam the whole capital 24/7.

Colombe Brossel, security adjoint, said at the conseil de Paris that this special brigade is absolutely necessary.

“This partitioning of enforcement officers is ineffective – there are not enough of them, especially during the evenings, at night, and on weekends,” he said. 

Another source in the Mayor’s office added: “Up until now, the cleanliness brigade had barely 100 agents, so around two to six people per arrondissement. This brigade will greatly increase the capacity to give out tickets.” 

In other words, Parisians, you really should think twice before throwing that cigarette…