JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African unit of cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc (PM.N) opened its first flagship store in Johannesburg on Thursday, as it tries to grow demand in Africa for its alternative heated tobacco product IQOS.
The store in Sandton gives Philip Morris access to tourists and business people from Africa who frequent Africa’s richest square mile, allowing it to use its retail footprint as a springboard to expand in the rest of the continent.
“If you look at Sandton, it’s the business hub of South Africa and Africa as well so it’s the one place where we need to start with our permanent flagship store,” Philip Morris South Africa Managing Director Marcelo Nico told Reuters at the sidelines of the launch.
South Africa is the first and only market in Africa where Philip Morris sells IQOS, an acronym for “I quit ordinary smoking,” which the company says contains up to 95% fewer toxic compounds than regular cigarettes.
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