Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 5

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46 tobaccoasia / Issue 5, 2016 November / December By Thomas Schmid When Bulgaria's State Tobacco Monopoly crumbled, its successor entities faced potentially hard times. But the country's tobacco industry managed a magnificent recovery thanks to invigorated marketing and a strong drive to expand beyond the Iron Curtain. Like Phoenix from the Ashes: Bulgaria's Burgeoning Tobacco Industry Factory hall at one of Bulgartabac's manufacturing locations Throughout the Cold War era and well beyond the demise of the Soviet Union and her former allies, Bulgaria practically served as the sole to- bacco and cigarette supplier for the entire East- ern Bloc. Through its Bulgarian State Tobacco Monopoly (BSTM) – renamed Bulgartabac in 1954 - the country had created a behemoth that dominated the region. When the end eventually came, the future looked bleak as the once mighty monopoly was split up into several separate suc- cessor entities. Bulgartabac: a worthy successor No article about Bulgaria's tobacco industry would, of course, be complete without Bulgart- abac, the trunk company of what today remains of the original monopoly. Privatized in 2011 to better cope with the free market economy dynamics that had also engulfed Bulgaria, Bulgartabac continues to be the leading supplier in the domestic cigarette market, but has also successfully nurtured and fur- ther expanded its international presence. After comprehensive domestic market liber- alizations were implemented in Bulgaria in 2006, Bulgartabac in 2008 sold two of its factories, which under new management emerged as local competitors. "However, this competition gave us the opportunity to move forward, become more creative and innovative, generate better ideas and offer better products," said a Bulgartabac spokes- person. Eventually the company also saw itself confronted by the arrival of "the big four", namely British American Tobacco, Philip Morris Interna- tional, Japan Tobacco International, and Imperial images courtesy of Bulgartabac Holding AD

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