Roland Imperial Tobacco has built an excellent reputation in Zambia and further afield for manufacturing an extensive product range, always working with customers’ best interests at heart
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Incorporated in 2001, Roland Imperial Tobacco (RITCO) is an indigenous Zambian-owned Company created with the purpose of manufacturing, trading and selling cigarettes and other tobacco related products to the local market.
The Company’s trading division houses a full compliment of staff and was also in partnership with Japan Tobacco International since 2009, excitingly making it the third biggest tobacco company currently operating in the world.
“Among the JTI Brands that were distributed by RITCO in Zambia there were prominent companies such as Monte Carlo, Aspen Export Menthol, Sweet Menthol, Camel Lights and Camel Full Flavour,” explains the Company on its website. “This of course is in addition to our very own life brand, which includes Guards and Zambezi Cut Tobacco that we proudly locally produce.”
The Company’s manufacturing division is monitored by a general manager with a structure made up of technical and administrative staff to support the operations.
“We proudly run the first cigarette manufacturing plant in Zambia, which is located in Lusaka,” adds the Company. “The Company established the aforementioned manufacturing plant in 2013 at quite the extensive cost of US$8 million, at present we are able to offer two blends of two varieties of cigarette.”
The available brands from the manufacturing plans are LIFE Full Flavour and LIFE Menthol – comprising two cigarette-sticks packaged in cellophane wrapping for the largely dominant stick market – GUARDS Full Flavour, GUARDS Menthol and recently adding to RITCO’s growing portfolio with the addition of the Company’s own ‘roll your own’ Zambezi Cut.
The aforementioned factory is situated in the Lamasat Industry Park and with its state-of-the-art machinery it has the capacity to produce more than two billion cigarettes per annum.
“The introduction of high-level technology has made a tremendous difference to the plant’s production abilities, not to mention the fact that we are able to provide skilled jobs for Zambian expatriates,” affirms the Company. “We expect that more jobs will be made available based on the growth projections for RITCO, making for a very exciting time at the Company.”
Among its newer product developments, the Life Full Flavour and Life Menthol brand packaging has had a revamp, changing from soft-cup to hinge-lid or hard packs. The Company has had the capital available to do this with thanks to the tremendous growth of the brands equity in the market, enabling the brand to hold an even more competitive place in the market.
“We have found this has left room for Guards Full Flavour, Guards Menthol and Zambezi Cut Tobacco to fill the void in the value segment which has shown great potential following the launch of these new products,” explains the Company. “Further to the plans to increase the brand’s portfolio, we hope to introduce Life Gold cigarettes and Life Lights which target the mid-to-premium segment in the market.”
With the numerous improvements to both the Company’s technologies and product offerings, RITCO has been able to generate far more value for stakeholders. Through the generation of this value, local economies in particular have benefitted from the need for new employees.
The Company adds: “It is due to this approach that RITCO has been able to successfully generate a supply chain that comprises over 10,000 traders, entrepreneurs and business people.”
With the sustainability seen within the Company and the growth that it has experienced, RITCO is able to provide its consumers and business partners with products that meet their demands.
“We have achieved this through our highly reputable distribution infrastructure, sales and marketing team and the support available for SMEs in our locality,” states the Company. “Through our sister Company Vapor Investments, we have also been able to launch our E-Cigarette range which makes for a far less risky development and a crucial area of growth moving forward.”
RITCO is particularly proud of the products that it has developed over the years, working hard to achieve the best possible options for its customers.
“We have tried to tap into every corner of the market when it comes to tobacco needs. Among the most popular is our Life 2s that are sold in single packs for the consumer that is unable to afford a full packet at that time,” continues the Company. “Life Menthol is the next step up and a brand that is completely locally manufactured by Roland Imperial, encompassing the finest blends of Virginia tobacco.”
The Life Menthol brand is continuously building up equity for the Company and holds its own against its full-flavour counterparts. It’s reputation for quality has enabled quick success and growth in the market, as well as a high maintenance of international standards and durability in the market among smokers of menthol flavoured cigarettes.
“Our Zambezi Cut Tobacco is a product that we are extremely proud of as our new and innovative product, fitting perfectly in the niche market of roll-your-own cigarettes in Africa,” explains the Company on its website. “It is a locally manufactured product that we package in a creatively designed plastic bag, available in both 12.5 and 25 grams.”
Sticking to the Company’s dedication to creating locally manufactured products for the Zambian market, its Guards Full Flavour brand is targeted at the value smoking segment. Its tried and tested recipe provides a blend of Virginia tobacco, stem and lamina and provides a strong but satisfying taste for the consumers of the product.
The Company adds: “We launched the product in 2016 and have seen a tremendous response within the market, having established ourselves as a top fighter brand against Duty Not Paid (DNP) and preventing illicit trade of black market products that have previously flooded the Zambian market.”
Life Full Flavour hosts the Company’s finest blends of Virginia tobacco, a perfect example of the RITCO’s hard work and dedication to creating exceptional products with the best possible flavour and taste to rival international brands.
“We have experienced great success in building equity and establishing a presence through our Life brand, now proudly boasting a presence as a top and reputable locally manufactured cigarette,” concludes the Company. “Its migration over the years is a testament to our team and the hard work they continuously put into our products, and we hope to see continued success in the Zambian market over the coming years.”