Philip Morris wants to take Iqos to 18 new UK cities and regions

Philip Morris has doubled the size of its Iqos sales force as it looks to ramp up sales of the heat-not-burn tobacco devices in the grocery retail channel.

The tobacco giant announced this week it was ready to ramp up its sales across grocery with new fully trained sales representatives, who were recruited, trained and on-boarded in the first quarter of this year to help sell Iqos in a further 18 cities and regions across the UK.

It marks a change in strategy for Philip Morris, which did not make the devices available in the retail channel when it initially launched Iqos in the UK in 2016, as it said retailers would not have the expertise to educate smokers fully on how to use them.

Ahead of the pandemic the devices were mainly only available online, at Iqos branded stores and some specialist vape shops, while the Heets sticks, which are used in the devices, were widely available in retail.

“We are fully committed to the convenience channel and have remodelled our commercial business to support retailers selling Iqos and Heets,” said Philip Morris head of commercial planning UK & Ireland Kate O’Dowd. “Only by putting retailers first can we achieve our smoke-free ambitions. Doubling our field force and expanding into 18 new regions will strengthen a retail community that is driving large-scale switching.

“Some parts of the country experience higher smoking rates than others. This investment will help consolidate and expand our position in those areas and give adult smokers a better choice than continued smoking.”

The company has also launched a new Digital Trade Engagement platform to provide retailers with fast-track delivery of Iqos stock, as well as a range of training tools to help retailers educate customers.