For most of us, Carpati brand makes us remember vividly of the first cigarette we smoked, a brand that dominated the tobacco market long before the invasion of global giants. Now, Carpati, Snagov and Marasesti are the only cigarette brands produced at the Cigarette Factory in Sfantu Gheorghe, Covasna. Wall-Street visited the manufacturing unit, and talked to the person responsible for the smooth running of productions, Rada Gherghina, about how the brand lost its popularity, once multinational tobacco juggernauts made their foray into the local market, and how the company manages to stay afloat in a fiercely competitive environment.
A short intro to a 113-year-long history

The history of the Cigarette Factory in Sfantu Gheorghe, the largest city and county seat of Covasna, goes back to November 18, 1897. At that time, the plant was operating in the building where the City Hall is now, erected after the World War II.

During the two world wars, the factory served as receiving station for the wounded, but only for a short while, due to the lack of surgical equipment and drugs.

Cigarette Factory was having only 40 female workers at first, and the first paper-wrapped cigarette packet to come out the production line was K and H.

The workforce at the factory increased annually to 80 in 1932, and diversified product range. New tobacco brands emerged soon after, such as Virginia, Trabucos or Britanica.

In 1932, the transition to today’s paper and cardboard boxes and to packet packaging was already underway.

Between 1937 and 1939 the factory built apartments for its workers at the plant. In 1945, after the Second World War ended, the factory resumed production and introduced new machine tools for the manufacturing and packaging of Triumf, Rapid or United, most popular at that time.

In 1966, Cigarette Factory from Cluj Napoca shut down, and production was relocated to Sfantu Gheorghe. In 1970 the factory was rolling around 4,729 tonnes of cigarettes, and had around 355 workers. In 1989, the unit was producing 6,137 tones of cigarettes with 583 workers, and in 2009, 812 tonnes with 101 workers.

The factory was removed from state ownership in 2004, and was acquired by Galaxy Tobacco.

According to Trade Registry data, Galaxy Tobacco is held by CTS Tobacco Limited in UK (46.2%) and Interagro (53.7%).

Carpati, a forgotten brand?

For the time being, the Cigarette Factory in Sfantu Gheorghe is the only unit that still manufactures Carpati, Snagov or Marasesti brand, after all the other four factories under Romanian Tobacco Association (Societatea Nationala Tutunul Romanesc) – Bucharest, Targu Jiu, Timisoara and Iasi – were shut down after going private.

The factory in Sfantu Gheorghe is headed by Rada Gherghina (photo) since early 2008, with around 30 year of service at the Cigarette Factory in Bucharest where she was assigned after finishing the Faculty of Food Industry in Galati.

“At first, when multinational tobacco companies came, we didn’t quite feel the impact, but it became stronger year over year. They took hold of the local market, and the excises grew sharply. For example, a Carpati unfiltered cigarette has the same excise as a Kent. The domestic production just plummeted and thus we’re focusing on exports now. I don’t think multinational companies should get far more blame than tobacco duties”, said Gherghina.

Snagov and Carpati cigarettes were enjoyed by everyone, in the rural as in urban areas, by the younger as much as by the elders, by the richer as by the poor. But now, sales collapsed, neither younger nor the elders smoke Carpati anymore.

“Ultimately, what the consumer smokes is the price, instead of tobacco. People who still smoke Carpati are those who smoked these cigarettes ever since they started smoking and still enjoy them. A true smoker is the one who wants to feel a wisp of tobacco on his tongue. An unfiltered cigarette smoker will never switch to a filtered cigarette”, said Gherghina.

Now, Carpati sales accounts for a mere 10% in the factory’s total sales, the brand being produced solely for internal market.

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Despre autor este un cotidian de business fondat în 2005, parte a grupului InternetCorp, unul dintre cei mai mari jucători din industria românească de publishing online. Pe parcursul celor peste 15 ani de prezență pe piața media, ne-am propus să fim o sursă de inspirație pentru mediul de business, dar și un canal de educație pentru pentru celelalte categorii de public interesate de zona economico-financiară. În plus, are o experiență de 10 ani în organizarea de evenimente B2B, timp în care a susținut peste 100 de conferințe pe domenii precum Ecommerce, banking, retail, pharma&sănătate sau imobiliare. Astfel, am reușit să avem o acoperire completă - online și offline - pentru tot ce înseamnă business-ul de calitate.

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