Lorillard is the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States. Founded in 1760, Lorillard is the oldest continuously operating tobacco company in the United States. Newport, our flagship menthol flavored premium cigarette brand, is the top selling menthol and second largest selling cigarette brand overall in the United States based on gross units sold in 2009. The Newport brand accounted for approximately 91.5% of our sales revenue for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009. In addition to the Newport brand, our product line has five additional brand families marketed under the Kent, True, Maverick, Old Gold and Max brand names. These six brands include 41 different product offerings which vary in price, taste, flavor, length and packaging. In 2009, we shipped 36.3 billion cigarettes, all of which were sold in the United States and certain U.S. possessions and territories. We sold our major trademarks outside of the United States in 1977. We manufacture all of our products at our Greensboro, North Carolina facility.
We produce cigarettes for both the premium and discount segments of the domestic cigarette market. We do not compete in a subcategory of the discount segment that we identify as the deep discount segment. Premium brands are well known, established brands marketed at higher retail prices. Discount brands are generally less well recognized brands marketed at lower retail prices. We define the deep discount subcategory to include brands sold at the lowest retail prices. Deep discount cigarettes are typically manufactured by smaller companies, relative to us and other major U.S. manufacturers, many of which have no, or significantly lower, payment obligations under the State Settlement Agreements, consisting of the Master Settlement Agreement among major tobacco manufacturers and 46 states and various other governments and jurisdictions (the “MSA”) and the settlements of similar claims brought by Mississippi, Florida, Texas and Minnesota.
In 2006 we entered into a joint venture with Swedish Match North America to develop and evaluate the opportunity to market a smokeless tobacco product for the U.S. market, called Triumph Snus. During 2008, we commenced test marketing of Triumph Snus in Ohio and Georgia. The test market results did not meet either our volume or profit benchmarks and the sale of Triumph Snus was discontinued in December 2009. In connection therewith, Lorillard and Swedish Match North America mutually agreed to terminate the joint venture. During 2010 we intend to enter certain test markets with a traditional moist snuff product to assess opportunities to broaden our product offering. This product will be produced to our specifications by a third-party manufacturer.
Advertising and Sales Promotion
The predominant form of promotion in the industry and for us consists of retail price reduction programs, such as discounting or lowering the price of a pack or carton of cigarettes in the retail store, and free pack with purchase promotions. These programs are developed, implemented and executed by our sales force through merchandising or promotional agreements with retail chain accounts and independent retailers.
We focus our retail programs in markets and stores reflecting unique potential for increased menthol sales. Our direct buying wholesale customers provide us with information as to the quantities of cigarettes shipped to their retail accounts on a weekly basis. This data covers approximately 99% of wholesale units shipped by us and our major competitors, and enables us to analyze, plan and execute retail promotion programs in markets and stores that optimize the most efficient and effective return on our promotional investments.
We employ other promotion methods to communicate with our adult consumers as well as with adult smokers of our competitors’ products. These promotional programs include the use of direct marketing communications, retail coupons, relationship marketing and promotional materials intended to be displayed at retail. Relationship marketing entails the use of various communication techniques to directly reach adult consumers in order to establish a relationship with them for the purpose of advertising and promoting a product or products. We use our proprietary database of smokers of our brands and smokers of our competitors’ brands to reach adult consumers with targeted communications about a given brand through age-restricted direct mail and internet programs. We regularly review the results of our promotional spending activities and adjust our promotional spending programs in an effort to maintain our competitive position. Accordingly, sales promotion costs in any particular fiscal period are not necessarily indicative of costs that may be realized in subsequent periods.
Advertising plays a relatively lesser role in our overall marketing strategy. We advertise Newport in a limited number of magazines that meet certain requirements regarding the age and composition of their readership. Newport is our only brand that receives advertising and promotion support.
Customers and Distribution
Our field sales personnel are based throughout the United States, and we maintain field sales offices in major cities throughout the United States. Our sales department is divided into regions based on geography and sales territories. We sell our products primarily to wholesale distributors, who in turn service retail outlets, chain store organizations, and government agencies, including the U.S. Armed Forces. Upon completion of the manufacturing process, we ship cigarettes to public distribution warehouse facilities for rapid order fulfillment to wholesalers and other direct buying customers. We retain a portion of our manufactured cigarettes at our Greensboro central distribution center and Greensboro cold-storage facility for future finished goods replenishment.
As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 500 direct buying customers servicing more than 400,000 retail accounts. We do not sell cigarettes directly to consumers. During 2009, 2008 and 2007, sales made by us to the McLane Company, Inc. comprised 26%, 26% and 24%, respectively, of our revenues. No other customer accounted for more than 10% of 2009, 2008 or 2007 sales. We do not have any written sales agreements with our customers, including the McLane Company, Inc. We do not have any backlog orders.
Most of our customers buy cigarettes on a next-day-delivery basis. Customer orders are shipped from public distribution warehouses via third party carriers. We do not ship products directly to retail stores. In 2009, approximately 99% of our customers purchased cigarettes using electronic funds transfer, which provides immediate payment to us.
Raw Materials and Manufacturing
In our production of cigarettes, we use domestic and foreign grown burley and flue-cured leaf tobaccos, as well as aromatic tobaccos grown primarily in Turkey and other Near Eastern countries. We believe that there is an adequate supply of tobacco leaf of the type and quality we require at competitive prices from a combination of global sources, and that we are not dependent on any one geographic region or country for our requirements. An affiliate of Reynolds American Inc. (“RAI”) manufactures all of our reconstituted tobacco pursuant to our specifications, as set forth in the agreement between us and RAI. Reconstituted tobacco is a form of tobacco material manufactured as a paper-like sheet from small pieces of tobacco that are too small to incorporate into the cigarette directly and may include some tobacco stems, and which is used as a component of cigarette blends.
We purchase our tobacco leaf through tobacco dealers, which contract with leaf growers. Such purchases are made at prevailing market prices in the country of origin. Due to the varying size and quality of annual crops and other economic factors, tobacco prices have historically fluctuated. We direct these dealers in the purchase of tobacco according to our specifications for quality, grade, yield, particle size, moisture content, and other characteristics. The dealers purchase and process the whole leaf and then dry and package it for shipment to and storage at our Danville, Virginia facility. We have not experienced any difficulty in purchasing our requirement of leaf tobacco.
We purchase more than 80% of our domestic leaf tobacco from one dealer, Alliance One International, Inc. (“Alliance One”). If Alliance One becomes unwilling or unable to supply leaf tobacco to us, we believe that we can readily obtain high-quality leaf tobacco from well-established, alternative industry sources. However, we believe that such high-quality leaf tobacco may not be available at prices comparable to those we pay to Alliance One.
We store our tobacco in 29 storage warehouses on our 130-acre Danville, Virginia facility. To protect against loss, amounts of all types and grades of tobacco are stored in separate warehouses. Certain types of tobacco used in our blends must be allowed to mature over time to allow natural chemical changes that enhance certain characteristics affecting taste. Because of these aging requirements, we maintain large quantities of leaf tobacco at all times. We believe our current tobacco inventories are sufficient and adequately balanced for our present and expected production requirements. If necessary, we can typically purchase aged tobacco in the open market to supplement existing inventories.
We produce cigarettes at our Greensboro, North Carolina manufacturing plant, which has a production capacity of approximately 185 million cigarettes per day and approximately 43 billion cigarettes per year. Through various automated systems and sensors, we actively monitor all phases of production to promote quality and compliance with applicable regulations.
Research and Development
We have an experienced research and development team that continuously evaluates new products and line extensions and assesses new technologies and scientific advancements to be able to respond to marketplace demands and developing regulatory requirements. The team includes 60 scientists, 33 of whom have advanced degrees. Our research and development efforts focus primarily on:
• developing quality products that appeal to adult consumers;
• studying and developing consumer-acceptable products with the potential for reduced exposure to smoke constituents or reduced health risk;
• identifying and investigating, through the use of internal and external resources, suspect constituents of cigarette products or their components to determine the feasibility of reduction or elimination;
• maintaining state-of-the-art knowledge about public health and scientific issues related to cigarette products;
• developing new, or modifying existing, products and processes to promote quality control and to comply with current and anticipated laws and regulations, including investigating ways to reduce cigarette ignition propensity; and
• collaborating and cooperating with outside public and private scientific institutions and encouraging independent research relating to cigarette products.
Tobacco-related research activities include: analysis of cigarette components, including cigarette paper, filters, tobacco and ingredients; analysis of mainstream and sidestream smoke; and modification of cigarette design. We employ advanced scientific equipment in our research efforts, including gas chromatographs, mass spectrographs and liquid chromatographs. We use this equipment to structurally identify and measure the amount of chemical compounds found in cigarette smoke and various tobaccos. These measurements allow us to better understand the relationship between the tobacco and the smoke yielded from cigarettes.
We are committed to the use of information technology throughout the organization to provide operating effectiveness, cost reduction and competitive advantages. We believe our system platform provides the appropriate level of information in a timely fashion to effectively manage the business. We utilize proven technologies while also continuously exploring new technologies consistent with our information technology architecture strategy. Our information technology environment is anchored by a SAP enterprise resource planning (“ERP”) system designed to meet the processing and analysis needs of our core business operations and financial control requirements. The process control and production methods in our manufacturing operation utilize scanning, radio frequency identification, wireless technologies and software products to monitor and control the manufacturing process. Our primary data center is located at our corporate headquarters and is staffed by an in-house team of experienced information technology professionals. A satellite data center, located at our manufacturing facility, supports our manufacturing environment. In addition, we have a comprehensive redundancy and disaster recovery plan in place.
As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 2,700 full-time employees. As of that date, approximately 1,000 of those employees were represented by labor unions covered by three collective bargaining agreements. Local Union #317T of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (AFL-CIO-CLC) represents workers at our Greensboro manufacturing plant. The agreement covering this Union expires in September 2011. Workers at our Danville, Virginia tobacco storage facility are represented by Local Union #233T of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (AFL-CIO-CLC) and Local Union #513 of the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU (AFL-CIO-CLC). The current agreements with Local Union #233T and Local Union #513 will expire in April 2012. We have historically had an amicable relationship with the unions representing our employees.
We provide a retirement plan, a profit sharing plan and other benefits for our hourly paid employees who are represented by unions. In addition, we provide to our salaried employees a retirement plan, group life, disability and health insurance program and a savings plan. We also maintain an incentive compensation plan for certain salaried employees.