Japan Tobacco to shut plants, cut jobs as domestic demand falls

TOKYO Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:53am EDT

TOKYO Oct 30 (Reuters) - Japan Tobacco Inc said it will close four domestic factories and seek 1,600 job cuts through voluntary retirements as tax hikes, tighter smoking rules and heightened health-consciousness in Japan's ageing society eat into demand.

Japan Tobacco, whose cigarette brands include Winston, Camel, Benson & Hedges and Mevius, said in a statement on Wednesday it will close two cigarette factories at the end of March 2015 and two other tobacco-related plants a year later.

The programme of job cuts, reducing Japan Tobacco's domestic workforce by almost a fifth, will be completed by March 2016, with most leaving by the end of March 2015.

The restructuring hadn't been announced previously and the company didn't disclose any financial impact from the closures.

The company will also close its leaf-processing and vending machine operations, and consolidate 25 branch offices in Japan into 15 regional sales headquarters. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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