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Ballantyne Brands advances share of electronic cigarette market

BY Rebecca Haughey

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ballantyne Brands, an electronic cigarette provider, on Monday announced the introduction of a new premium brand, NEO. The company also announced that it has acquired the Mistic brand of electronic cigarettes for an undisclosed amount, and has secured an investment partner to support its business for the long term.

"With both the launch of NEO and purchase of Mistic, we are now poised to capture a significant share of the electronic cigarette market over the next six months and beyond," said John Wiesehan, Jr., Ballantyne Brands CEO. "Additionally, with the strong support from our capital partners, there is no limit to how much growth we can achieve."

The acquisition of Mistic was critical to Ballantyne Brands’ goal of becoming a top electronic provider in the marketplace, providing the company with a brand that currently has both equity in the marketplace and a strong consumer base. The company has the full support of its suppliers, and will be able to leverage it production capacity in the future.

Electronic cigarettes are alternatives for traditional tabacco; NEO and Mistic electronic cigarettes — often called "e-cigs" — are available in both traditional tobacco and menthol flavors.

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Target, Walmart, McKesson named among Businessweek’s ranking of civic-minded companies

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Target, Walmart and McKesson were each recognized Friday as one of America’s more community-minded companies as part of the The Civic 50 — the first scientific evaluation to rank the companies that best use their time, talent and resources to improve the quality of life where they do business. 

The survey was conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Points of Light, and was published in the Nov. 9 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.

“McKesson is in the business of better health, so our citizenship efforts are simply a part of our daily work,” stated Carrie Varoquiers, VP corporate citizenship. “Whether it is through the daily delivery of life-saving medications, improved medication safety in the emergency room, Comfort Kits delivered to cancer patients through our Giving Comfort charity, or our all-employee volunteer week, McKesson is proof that companies really can do well by doing good.”

“The results of The Civic 50 show that what is good for business can also be good for the community,” said Michael Weiser, chairman of NCoC. “Rather than passively write checks to charities or philanthropies, the top corporations are actively aligning their resources and professional skills with the needs of community partners. The Civic 50 reveals which companies are truly innovative, and we are hopeful that these examples will inspire other companies to make a difference in communities.”

Companies were evaluated on several elements, including leadership, measurement and strategy, design, employee civic health, community partnerships, cause alignment and transparency. 

To see the full rankings, click here.

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Roundy’s sales, profits fall in third quarter 2012

BY Alaric DeArment

MILWAUKEE — The continued softness of the economy weighed down on sales and profits at Roundy’s during third quarter 2012, the Midwestern supermarket chain said Friday.

The company reported sales of $973.6 million, a 0.3% decrease from third-quarter 2011, while profits were $8.8 million, down from $12.4 million last year. Roundy’s operates 161 stores with 98 pharmacies under the Pick ‘n Save, Rainbow, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano’s banners in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

"During the third quarter, our results continued to be negatively affected by the general weakness in the overall economy and increased competitive environment," Roundy’s president, chairman and CEO Robert Mariano said. "We have worked very hard to strengthen our leading market position as a provider of quality, value and convenience to consumers, but the impact of increased price investments and promotional activities on our gross margins and profitability was greater than we anticipated."

Mariano said that customers did not respond as enthusiastically as last year to the company’s Monopoly promotion program, which had contributed to the stronger results last year, though the chain’s stores in the Chicago market continued performing well. "With eight Mariano’s now open in the Chicago area, we are gaining significant traction and continue to invest in the growth of that market," Mariano said. "We believe that our continued focus on enhancing the execution of our overall business model will position us to deliver greater overall sales growth and profitability."

For the 39-week period ended Sept. 29, sales were $2.9 billion, a 1.2% increase over the $2.87 billion reported during the same period last year. Profits during the latest 39-week period were $38.3 million, compared with $38.9 million last year.

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