Hi Brasil Tobacco’s Managing Partner takes stock of 2017 and is optimistic for 2018.

INTERVIEW

Expectations for business in 2018 are “the best possible”. For HBT’s managing director, Renato Volonghi, 2018 promises to be a great year for the company. And what about the dreaded financial recession? This is a thing of the past. According to Volonghi the company will reap the results of its efforts in recent years. And he also guarantees: new products are coming.

1) In your evaluation, how was the year 2017 for HBT?
2017 was a great year for HBT. We intensified our work in Brazil, increased the distribution here and expanded our export. In addition to having strengthened our relationship with Argentina and Chile, we have started business with Japan in the past year. The country is one of the world’s largest markets for hand rolling tobacco. That is why starting business with Japan means a lot to the company.

2) 2018: What are your expectations for business?
The best ones possible. In 2017 we faced a financial recession in Brazil, which required us much control and planning, but 2018 has started off very well, with good prospects and businesses going on. I am sure we will, in this year, reap the results of all our choices and investments of the past few years.

3) Should customers wait for news on products?
Absolutely. We cannot stop, we need to keep innovating, right? Our Marketing team is always tuned to the new products and trends of the market. Soon, new products from our brands will be available for sale.

4) Hi Brasil Tobacco started in 2011 with only 1 product in its portfolio. Today, 7 years later, it has more than 16 own products in its catalog and Hi Tobacco is the most commercialized hand rolling tobacco brand in Brazil and Santiago (Chile). To what do you attribute the success of the company?
I believe it has been a set of factors that, worked in a team, has resulted in this success. But, in my opinion, one point stands out: Quality has always been a priority for us. No matter the market situation or the financial return of the moment, we were always looking for the best product in terms of quality tobacco, differentiated packaging and innovative brand concept. We have never given up having quality in all our processes. And we keep pursuing this goal. We know, for sure, that we can always improve, but this effort to deliver quality products has been recognized by the market.

5) More and more the Government has been cracking down on tobacco companies. In May this year there will be changes in the packaging, which will reduce the exposure of the brand in the product. And, other changes have already been announced regarding the exposure of Displays at points of sale for the next few years. What do you think of these measures adopted by the Government? Does this “mess up” HBT business?
In a way, it does. After all, every time the Law changes we have to change our packaging, collect the “old ones” and print new ones. But, we already know that the tobacco market is like that and we are always tuned to these issues, precisely to reduce the costs and impacts on the brand. This is the game: the Government does their share, sets the rules, and we follow our business. We cannot panic over requirements, on the contrary, we have to look at them and search for smart solutions for our business.