Gebr. Heinemann and Imperial Brands celebrate successful centenary

By Luke Barras-hill |

L-R: Aleš Struminský, President of Europe Region, Imperial Brands; Max Heinemann, Co-CEO, Gebr. Heinemann; and Claus Heinemann, Member of the Supervisory Board, Gebr. Heinemann.

Gebr. Heinemann and Imperial Brands are celebrating 100 years of collaboration and partnership in 2023.

Their milestone alliance (originally between Gebr. Heinemann and Imperial Brands Reemstma, now part of Imperial Brands Group) began on 28 April 1923.

Since then, the two companies have been long-term strategic partners, working together closely to achieve key landmark successes over the decades.

These have included supplying the first German airport duty free shop, which opened in Frankfurt in 1958, and Gebr. Heinemann’s first duty free retail operation, which opened at Cologne Airport in 1970.

On 28 April, both companies raised a glass to their centennial anniversary – and toasted the future of their partnership.

At the celebration, Imperial Brands President of Europe Region Aleš Struminský commented: “Today, we are delighted to commemorate a wonderful accomplishment of a relationship that started with two Hamburg-based merchants 100 years ago, and one which has flourished into a partnership between two key global players in the travel retail and duty free industry.”

A shared long-term vision

First order confirmation between Imperial Brands Reemtsma and Gebr. Heinemann in 1923.

He continued: “Gebr Heinemann remains one of our most important partners in travel retail and duty free, and we are very proud to have kept our traditional values of trust, honesty and fairness at the heart of our working relationship over the last century.

“With this in mind, we have approached opportunities and challenges with a shared long-term vision, which makes this partnership both successful and incredibly special.”

Gebr. Heinemann Co-CEO Max Heinemann commented: “As Gebr Heinemann, we stand for reliable and long-term partnerships. Our hundred-year cooperation with Imperial Brands is an exceptional example of this.

“Such partnership can only work if both sides share the same values and success is not only about achieving individual goals, but also about working to achieve common aims. Over the course of our collaboration, we have leveraged each other’s expertise to create a resilient alliance that has stood the test of time. Looking to the future, I am confident that our partnership will continue to thrive and evolve.”

Despite facing significant challenges over the years – including the abolition of intra-EU duty free in 1999, and more recently, the Covid pandemic – tobacco remains an important revenue driver in the industry.

Today, Imperial Brands’ products are sold in around 80% of Gebr. Heinemann’s global retail outlets across different channels, with approximately 33 of Imperial’s brands featured in around 100 airports worldwide, through Gebr. Heinemann’s wholesale and retail operations.

This presence spans key global regions and markets, including Germany, Turkey, Australia and Norway.

Gebr. Heinemann and Imperial Brands confirm that they are already looking forward to the next 100 years of partnership, mindful of new developments such as the growing power of digital and the shifting demands of a more sustainably minded consumer.


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