We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
RSS FeedPeople Management

Imperial Tobacco CFO has helped steer the company from float to global giant


Robert Dyrbus, group FD of FTSE100 Imperial Tobacco

Article comments

Walking into Imperial Tobacco's Bristol headquarters is like stepping back in time. It's not just the redbrick building in what was once the city's thriving cigarette manufacturing centre that evokes a sense of nostalgia. On the walls of reception are posters of young adults enjoying a smoke in the shadows of Big Ben, Sydney Opera House, the Brandenburg Gate and the Forbidden City.

The brands depicted in these illustrations – Gauloises Blondes, Drum, John Player Special – hark back to a bygone era, a time when smoking was glamourised on TV and glossy magazines. Today, this small corner of Imperial's global empire must be one of the very few places in Western Europe where you'll find advertising of this kind.

The posters sit alongside a glass cabinet featuring various corporate governance awards – another nod to how the world has changed since Messrs Wills and Watkins opened their small tobacco shop in the city in 1786 (although WD & HD Wills did pioneer staff canteens, free medical care, sports facilities and paid holidays).

Pinning the group's finance director Robert Dyrbus down for an interview has been a challenge. As the finance chief of a FTSE 100 company with a presence in 160 countries, a portfolio of global brands and an adjusted profit of £3 billion, there's rarely enough hours in the day.

In addition to a full diary, each morning he's on the phone to his broker discussing the group's ongoing share buy-back programme and there was also the matter of a price war in Spain earlier this year for which the company issued a trading statement (although he says it might not be as bad as first seemed).

Dyrbus, Imperial's long-standing finance chief, appears affable and open for a businessman in a highly controversial industry. He spends most of his days attending to board meetings, conferences and monthly reporting for up to two years hence – a blank week on a Monday will be filled with last-minute scribbled meetings by the Friday. It's not surprising given his overarching role includes compliance and audit, investor relations, IT and more besides finance. It's a wonder he has time to catch a breath, let alone a quick cigarette with his colleagues outside the back door, where he is simply known as Bob.

"One of the side-effects of the smoking in public places ban in this country is that I, along with any of the other smokers, sit outside the back door and chat to a complete slice of the organisation. I don't think I'm Mr Dyrbus to anyone," he says, hinting at his open-door management style.

Dyrbus, aged 58 and a keen sportsman despite his habit, explains that it's only in the last couple of years that he's been able to take his full complement of annual holiday. This let-up in his workload has coincided with the arrival of new chief executive Alison Cooper, who is taking the company in a new strategic direction.

"In terms of where we are today if you look over the past 14 years, earnings per share grew about 16 percent compound. If you strip that down into the two elements, deals and the extracting synergies accounted for around half of that growth and about half was the ongoing business. Back in 1996 we were the 14th largest international tobacco company in the world and now we are the fourth," he explains.

Share:

Comments

Imperial Tobacco CFO has helped steer the company from float to global giant
People Management

Finance skills evolve as the recovery takes hold

Finance skills evolve as the recovery takes hold

Finance teams need to learn soft skills as corporate priorities evolvemore ..


ITV group FD to join DS Smith board

Ian Griffiths to take up non-executive director role at packaging companymore ..

Unemployment falls to five-year low

Headline rate of unemployment at 6.9% as wages rise above inflation ratemore ..

Microsaic Systems appoints new FD

Andrew Darby to succeed Malcolm Batemanmore ..

Do you have what it takes to become a non-executive?

The benefits of board service for CFOsmore ..

How level is the playing field for women in business?

Vince Cable moots women-only shortlists just ahead of international women’s daymore ..

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:


PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.



In Depth
How M&A teams can create value by challenging the CEO

How M&A teams can create value by challenging the CEO

A typical “hold” period of nine to 18 months can generate increased sale value more ..

In Depth
What every company needs to do about big data?

What every company needs to do about big data?

In the first of a three part series, Pat Brans explores just how big 'big data' will get? more ..

Advertisement

* *