Rothmans International

Rothmans International PLC was a British tobacco manufacturer. Its brands included Rothmans, Player's and Dunhill. Its international headquarters were in Hill Street, London and its international operations were run from Denham Place in Denham Village, Buckinghamshire.

Rothmans International plc
Company typePublic limited company
PredecessorUnion Financiere Belge des Tabacs Tabacofina Edit this on Wikidata
Founded1890 in London
FounderLouis Rothman
Defunct1999; 25 years ago (1999)
FateAcquired by British American Tobacco[1]
SuccessorRothmans, Benson & Hedges (Canada)
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Key people
Lord Swaythling, Chairman
Lord Pritchard, Chairman
Footnotes / references
Carcinogenicity: IARC group 1

The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but it was acquired by British American Tobacco in 1999.[1] Its business was the strongest in the whole of Europe.[2]

History edit

The company was founded by Louis Rothman in 1890 as a small kiosk on Fleet Street in London. In 1900, Rothman opened a small showroom in Pall Mall, from where he launched his famous Pall Mall cigarette brand. His reputation was such that King Edward VII granted Rothmans a royal warrant in 1905. Rothmans was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1929.[3]

In 1954, the Rembrandt Tobacco Company acquired a controlling interest in Rothmans. Rembrandt was expanding and in 1958 acquired Carreras, who in turn took a 51% stake in Alfred Dunhill in 1967.

In the 1970s, Rothmans became involved in sponsorships, sponsoring the British Olympic team in 1972 and the inaugural Hong Kong Sevens in 1976. They also sponsored Rothmans Football Yearbook, an annual football reference book, from 1970 until 2002.

In Malaysia, Rothmans was one of the popular brands of cigarette, so much so that one of the roundabouts in Petaling Jaya was named 'Rothmans Roundabout' owing to its proximity to the former headquarters of Rothmans of Pall Mall Malaysia (now British American Tobacco Malaysia). It has since converted to a 4-way junction.[4]

In 1988, Lord Swaythling became chairman and chief executive.[5]

In January 1996, the Rembrandt Group and Richemont merged their tobacco businesses under the "Rothmans International" name.[6] Then, in 1999, Rothmans was acquired by British American Tobacco.[1] The takeover resulted in the closure of the Rothmans Spennymoor and Darlington manufacturing plants in 2000 and 2001, respectively, with production moved to a larger plant at Southampton.

Sponsorship of motorsports edit

Holden VL Commodore SS Group A of Allan Moffat & John Harvey, winner of the 1987 Monza 500, on display at the Historic Sandown 2009
One of several Porsche 956s sponsored by Rothmans
The Williams FW18 Formula One car sponsored by Rothmans

Rothmans was an active promoter of motorsports in the 1980s and 1990s.

From 1982 onwards, Rothmans supported the factory Porsche sports car racing effort, winning the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans with a 1-2-3 finish with their Porsche 956. They would win the event a further three times in the 1980s. Rothmans-Porsche also won the 1985 World Sportscar Championship before the team officially pulled out of the championship in 1987.

Rothmans were the title and founding partner of the Rothmans-Porsche Challenge Cup single-make Porsche 944 series founded by Jack Christie,[7] which ran from 1986 to 1991.

Rothmans sponsorship also extended to rallying, where they sponsored Walter Röhrl's 1982 World Rally Championship-winning Opel Ascona 400. In 1984 Porsche produced the 911 SC RS rally car specifically for Rothmans with the car being run by David Richards and the newly formed [[Prodrive](set up and run by both Ian Parry & David Richards]. Rothmans also sponsored the winning Porsche team at the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally. Porsche has revived the 911 Dakar model introduced to their 2023 spring lineup being promoted as having roots in the Rothmans 911 and although it is all wheel drive and lifted, it carries the same colors and similar patterns the Rothmans car displayed along with the Rothmans moniker on the sides. That logo has been dropped in exchange for the logo “Roughroad” on the sides. A limited run of 2,500 cars are being made. The original three digit numbers (#175) can be used or any three digit number can be chosen by the buyer. Base price is just over $230,000 and an additional amount of options can add well over $100,000 extra.

Porsche left rallying when the Group B category was dropped, and Rothmans transferred its association to the Subaru rally team, also run by Prodrive (Ian Parry and David Richards). Coincidentally, Richards was sponsored by Rothmans when he was co-driving Ari Vatanen to his privateer 1981 World Drivers' Championship success aboard the Ford Escort RS1800. The association with Prodrive would last until 1992, when their sponsorship was replaced by sister brand State Express 555.

Between 1985 and 1993, Rothmans supported the works Honda team in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Rothmans then transferred their association to Williams during the World Championship from 1994 until 1997. However, their time with Williams was marred when Ayrton Senna, considered by some to be the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, died behind the wheel of the Rothmans-Williams during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Damon Hill won the 1996 title and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. Sponsorship was transferred in 1998 to Winfield, another sister brand.

Rothmans was also the naming rights sponsor for Australian team Allan Moffat Racing in the early rounds of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship in 1987 (the Moffat team had a long association with Rothmans who sponsored the team's Mazda RX-7s in the early-mid 1980s in Australian Touring car racing through their Peter Stuyvesant brand). Driving a V8 powered Holden VL Commodore SS Group A, team boss Allan Moffat and co-driver John Harvey won the first ever WTCC race, the 1987 Monza 500. The pair would later drive the Rothmans sponsored car to outright 4th place in the 1987 Spa 24 Hours.

Products and brands edit

Distribution products edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b Discontinued in 2020 in Europe

References edit

  1. ^ a b c BAT will buy Rothmans, New York Times, 12 January 1999.
  2. ^ Edmund L. Andrews (1999-01-12). "INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS; British American Tobacco Will Buy Rothmans - New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  3. ^ "Rothmans Original Kingsize - 10 Packs of 20 Cigarettes (200)". Retrieved 2024-04-01.
  4. ^ "Rothmans roundabout to become traffic light junction". Sun Daily. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  5. ^ Obituary: Lord Swaythling Independent, 13 July 1998
  6. ^ Richemont: History
  7. ^ English, Bob (2011-06-18). "Return to the proving grounds for racing enthusiasts". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2023-01-18.

External links edit