10.4 Other importers operating in the Australian market

Last updated: May 2019     

Suggested citation: Bayly, M. 10.4 Other importers operating in the Australian market. In Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2019. Available from http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-10-tobacco-industry/10-4-other-importers-operating-in-the-australian

Apart from the three major companies listed in Chapter 10, Section 10.3 , a small number of companies operate within Australia as distributors of imported cigarettes and other tobacco products—predominantly cigars, cigarillos and pipe tobacco— and smokers' requisites such as cigarette papers and filters for roll-your-own tobacco users. These smaller companies collectively accounted for 17.2% of the estimated market share of the tobacco product wholesaling industry in 2018.1 Tobacco companies other than the major multinationals accounted for 3.3% of the total cigarette retail market by volume in 2017 and 4.9% of the smoking tobacco market,down from 6.7% in 2016 and 9.8% in 2013.2 ‘Other’ companies comprise a much larger share of the cigar and cigarillo markets: 67.8% and 73.7%, respectively.2 Most smaller operators in the Australian tobacco market are also local subsidiaries of multinational companies.1 The largest of these importers is Scandinavian Tobacco Group Australia Pty Ltd, while the remainder of importers tend to be small independent wholesalers which distribute tobacco products within smaller regions.1

10.4.1 Scandinavian Tobacco Group Australia Pty Ltd

 The Scandinavian Tobacco Group is a large tobacco producer which is based in Denmark. Skandinavisk Holding A/S and Swedish Match Cigars Holding AB are major owners.1 Scandinavian Tobacco Group Australia Pty Ltd imports and wholesales tobacco products in Australia, predominantly cigars and cigarillos.1 This importer accounted for less than 2% of total wholesaling market share in 2018,1 and 57.4% of cigar, 60.6% of cigarillo, and 0.1% of smoking tobacco retail volumes in 2017.2 

Table 10.4.1
Scandinavian Tobacco Group Australia Pty Ltd brands and products, 2019   

Source: IBISWorld1, Euromonitor2 and The Australian Retail Tobacconist3

* Also listed as imported by Smokers Supplies

† Also listed as imported by Pacific Cigar Company and Smokers Supplies

^ Also listed as imported by British American Tobacco Australia and Smokers Supplies

10.4.2 Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd

Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd is an importer, marketer and distributor for tobacco products and a range of packaged food products, owned by the Australian-based company Frossard Pty Ltd.4 Stuart Alexander & Co has operated in Australia since 1884.In the late 1990s, the company shifted its focus, stating on its website “Stuart Alexander is now a 'confectionery and food company that also sells cigars', rather than a 'tobacco distributor that sells food'”.5 In 2010, Stuart Alexander had a 50.0% value share of the $23.5 million cigar market in grocery stores.6 This rapidly declined so that in 2012 Stuart Alexander & Co’s share of the grocery cigar market was not reported among the top cigar companies.7 Likewise, Stuart Alexander & Co was listed as the largest cigar distributor for the entire Australian retail market in terms of both volume and value in 2012 and 2013,8 but was not listed as of 2015 in Euromonitor industry reports.9 The tobacco products that were imported and distributed by Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd as of 2019 are presented in Table 10.4.2.

Table 10.4.2
Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd tobacco products, 2019

Source: Personal communication with Stuart Alexander customer service line, May 2019.

* Also listed as imported by Smokers Supplies

† Also listed as imported by Trojan Trading and Smokers Supplies

^ Also listed as imported by British American Tobacco Australia and Smokers Supplies

10.4.3 Richland Express Pty Ltd

Richland Express is a tobacco importer and distributor, owned by shareholders in Australia and Singapore.10 The company was formed by two former directors of Rothmans, WD & HO Wills and British American Tobacco.11 Richland Express operates nationally and is based in New South Wales. The Richland Express website promotes retailer-centred operations, including stating “we reward retailers who buy and sell our products. It’s that simple”. Richland Express’s products include the factory-made cigarette brands Deal, Reef, Easy, Hong Ta Shan, Manitou and Manitou Organic, kreteks (clove flavoured cigarettes) under the Jet Clove brand, roll-your-own tobacco brands including Deal, Manitou and Harvest, and cigars and cigarillos under the brands Tycoon and Candlelight—see also Supplementary Table 10.7. Richland Express also offers exclusive brand ranges to retailers.11 Its tobacco products are manufactured in in Germany and Luxembourg.

10.4.4 Other importers of tobacco products into Australia 

Several other businesses import cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products into Australia. These include standard American and European cigarettes, as well as kreteks, flavoured cigarettes from Hong Kong and Chinese brands.3, 12 Chinese brands in particular sell more cheaply in Australia than many other brands, so appeal to the value end of the market as well as to expatriate Chinese smokers.12  

Patron Group is another company that imports a range of tobacco products into Australia. However, no recent information is publicly available about the company. Patron Group Australia began operating in Australia in the late 1990s and advertised in retail trade magazines that it imports and distributed the following Chinese cigarette brands: Chunghwa, Double Happiness, and GD.14 Additional cigarette importers—as of 20133—include ATA International Pty Ltd, importing the brands Furongwang, Lesser Panda, and Yuxi; Brightcity International Trading Pty Ltd (Huanghelou, and RGD14), and PT Korea Pty Ltd imported cigarette brands from Korea including Bohem, Esse, Raison and This Plus. Other companies including Cigarworld Australia, Jamreem Pty Ltd, the Pacific Cigar Company, Smokers Supplies, and Trojan Trading Company have imported a variety of niche tobacco products including premium cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco, make-your-own tobacco, and cigars into the Australian market. The Burger Group has a stable 4% share of cigar sales volumes in Australia.2

At least two Australian specialist importers, Alexanders Cigar Merchants15 and Cigarworld Australia,16 operate their own specialist retail outlets, which sell cigars as well as other tobacco-related paraphernalia and giftware. 

10.4.5 Private label brands

In July 2010, supermarket giant Coles attracted critical media coverage due to the sale of 'home-brand-style packs of 25 cigarettes, imported from Germany under an exclusive deal with Richland Express, at about $11, almost $4 a pack less than Australian-made Winfield and other leading brands at that time.17 The packs carried unfamiliar names such as Bayside, Deal, Harvest and Tradition and were being promoted by Coles as a cheaper alternative to well-known brands3 (see Figure 10.4.1). In 2016, the national supermarket chain IGA launched its own exclusive private label tobacco brands, including King Street, Brooklyn and Regent Street factory made cigarettes, and Durham roll-your-own tobacco. In explanatory material to store holders, IGA stated that the benefits of private label tobacco brands included increased gross profit margins and consistent low price with no promotions. Further ‘key selling features’ include quality that can be ‘recommended with confidence’ and that the products are manufactured in the same facility as other “competitive supplier brands”.18 These brands are apparently manufactured and imported by the Tobacco Imports Company, part of the Kollaras Group.19    

Figure 10.4.1

Figure 10.4.1 
Heavily discounted imported cigarettes sold at Coles, 2010

Source: R Squires, The Sunday Telegraph 17


Relevant news and research

For recent news items and research on this topic, click here.(Last updated June 2021)



1. Thomson J. IBISWorld Industry Report F3606b: Tobacco Product Wholesaling in Australia. Melbourne, Australia: IBISWorld, 2018.

2. Euromonitor International. Tobacco in Australia—2016 and 2017. London: Euromonitor International, 2019. Available from: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco.

3. NSW Retail Tobacco Traders' Association. Price lists-cigarettes. The Australian Retail Tobacconist, 2013; 87(no. 1 Feb-May):1–2. 

4. IBISWorld Pty Ltd. IBISWorld Company Report: Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd. Melbourne: Australia: IBISWorld Pty Ltd, 2018.

5. Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd. History. Sydney, Australia 2016. Last update: Viewed 30 November 2016. Available from: http://www.stuartalexander.com.au/about/history.

6. Retail World. Retail World Annual Report 2010.  Market sizes and shares. Retail World, 2010; December:30. 

7. Retail World. Retail World Annual Report 2012.  Market sizes and shares. Retail World, 2012; December:30. 

8. Euromonitor International. Tobacco in Australia - 2008 to 2013, Available for purchase. London: Euromonitor International, 2014. Available from: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco.

9. Euromonitor International. Tobacco in Australia. London: Euromonitor International, 2016. Available from: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco.

10. Richland Express Pty Ltd. Where have we come from?  2019. Last update: Viewed 9/05/2019. Available from: http://www.richlandexpress.com.au/where-we-have-came-from/.

11. NSW Retail Tobacco Traders' Association. Advertisement: Richland Express: Playing in the Big League. The Australian Retail Tobacconist, 2013; 89(Oct-Nov-Dec):6. 

12. Convenience & Impulse Retailing. Brand matters- the importance of brand loyalty in the tobacco category. Balmain, New South Wales: Berg Bennett, 2008. Last update: Viewed Available from: http://c-store.net.au/magazine/view_article.php?id=169.

13. Daly P. House of Representatives - Standing Committee on Health and Ageing Greystanes, NSW: Richland Express, 2011. Last update: Viewed 30 November 2016. Available from: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:JQPcvB8unZ8J:www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees%3Furl%3Dhaa/./billtobaccopackage/subs/sub44.pdf+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

14. NSW Retail Tobacco Traders' Association. The Australian Retail Tobacconist, 2016; 99(July-August-September). 

15. Alexanders Cigar Merchants. Corporate website. Melbourne, Australia: Alexanders Cigar Merchants, Last update: Viewed Available from: http://www.alexanderscigars.com.au/.

16. Cigarworld Australia. Corporate website. Mermaid Waters, Queensland: Cigarworld Australia, 2005. Last update: Viewed Available from: http://www.cigarworld.com.au.

17. Squires R. Coles importing cheap cigarettes from Germany and selling them at discount prices. The Sunday Telegraph, 2010; 18 Jul. Available from: http://www.news.com.au/business/coles-importing-cheap-cigarettes-from-germany-and-selling-them-at-discount-prices/story-e6frfm1i-1225893467835

18. IGA. IGA Merchandising Update August 3rd 2016.  2016. Last update: Viewed 23/04/2019. Available from: https://www.igatas.com.au/web-assets/Retailer/News/News%20Bulletin/2016/2016-08-03_Week%2031%20-%2003%20August%202016.pdf.

19. Marrett L. Feature article: Tobacco.  2018. Last update: 03/04/2018; Viewed 23/04/2019. Available from: https://www.c-store.com.au/2018/04/03/feature-article-tobacco/.