Alison Cooper will step down as CEO and from the board of Imperial Brands once a suitable successor is found.
“Alison has worked tirelessly and with great energy and passion during her 20 years with Imperial, nine of which have been as CEO, and the board would like to thank her for the tremendous contribution she has made,” said Chairman Mark Williamson.
“During her tenure as CEO the business has been significantly simplified and reshaped to strengthen its long-term growth potential, and more than £10 billion [$12.31 billion] in dividends has been returned to shareholders. I am pleased that Alison has committed to continue to lead the business until a successor is appointed, ensuring an orderly transition of responsibilities.”
As CEO, Cooper has driven a sharper focus on Imperial’s strongest brands and markets, halving the number of cigarette brands to ensure a higher quality of growth, with “asset brands” now accounting for two thirds of the group’s tobacco net revenue, according to Imperial Brands. She also significantly enhanced Imperial’s presence in the highly profitable U.S. market with the $7 billion acquisition of brands and assets in 2014 and has been the architect of the launch and development of Imperial’s next-generation products (NGP) business.
While the search for a successor continues, Cooper will focus on driving the performance of the business, including the asset divestment program, which Imperial expects to realize proceeds of up to £2 billion by May 2020.
On Sept. 26, Imperial Brands issued an earnings warning on Sept. 26 reflecting a deteriorating market for NGPs in the United States and changes to results expectations in its Africa, Asia and Australasia division.