No. 1 South Korean tobacco maker KT&G said that it saw a record high of 1.482 trillion won ($1.3 billion) of overseas sales last year. The company said it broke its previous record of 941.4 billion won of overseas sales in 2016, measured by sales from exports and overseas corporation.
This translates to a record high of 55.4 billion cigarettes sold overseas, a rapid increase from 48.7 billion cigarettes in 2016.
KT&G first tapped the overseas market in 1988.
Its foreign market sales amounting to just 2.6 billion cigarettes in 1999 began to increase rapidly after privatization, growing more than 20-fold over the last 18 years. It has now become the world’s fifth largest tobacco maker that has global operations in more than 50 countries.
The growth has been based on quality-focused management and marketing capability competing with multi-national tobacco companies
KT&G’s signature brands Esse and Pine have a strong presence in the Russian and Middle East markets. The company currently operates local factories in countries including Russia, Turkey and Indonesia, and it has entered emerging markets, such as countries in Africa and Central and South America.
As of last year, KT&G said sales of its three main businesses -- domestic tobacco products, tobacco products sold overseas and ginseng -- broke sales of 1 trillion won each.
On Thursday, the company also said it would pay annual cash dividends of 4,000 won per share, an 11.1 percent increase from last year’s 3,600 won.
Bok-in Baek, CEO of KT&G said, “It is more meaningful that a record high of over 1 trillion wonof overseas sales last year amid globally challenging economy and the appreciated value of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar. In the future, KT&G will keep growing by exploring emerging markets and increase exports to contribute to the growth of the state economy.