Reemtsma (West)

The West cigarette brand is one which belongs to the Reemtsma company, which is based in Hamburg, Germany.The company was founded in 1910 in Erfurt by Johann Bernhard Reemtsma after he took control of the Dixi cigarette factory. The firm stayed in Erfurt until 1923 when it moved to Hamburg. Two years later Reemstma died and the business was taken over by his two sons Philipp and Hermann and in the late 1930s the company controlled around 75% of the German domestic market. The power behind the growth was Philipp who adopted a policy of marketing different brand names each with its own individual identity. These included R6 and Gelbe Sorte in the pre-war years and the West and Peter Stuyvesant brands in the postwar ones. A World War I flyer, Philipp was a friend of Hermann Goering and paid "donations" to him throughout the Nazi period as a means of protecting the company. The war hit the Reemtsma Family hard. Two of Philipp's sons were killed in the fighting while a third died of polio.In 1949 Philipp established Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH and began to rebuild the business although he had to pay a DM 10m fine to avoid a jail sentence resulting from the payments to Goering. By 1950 he had been cleared of all charges and was in the process of rebuilding the company, a process continued until his death in 1959. The company continued to be run by Philipp's widow Gertrud but their son Jan Philipp - a professor at Hamburg University - wanted no part in the business and in 1980 organised the sale of the family's holdings to the Tchibo coffee company, which is itself controlled by Beiersdorf AG, the holding company of the Hamburg-based Herz Family. Beiersdorf's other holdings include Nivea skin cream, Labello lipsalve, Atrix handcream, Hansaplast medical dressings and Tesa adhesive tape.Under Tchibo management the company continued to grow and in the early 1990s began investing heavily in Eastern Europe and Asia. It was decided to become the major sponsor of the McLaren F1 team in 1997 to support this expansion. Reemtsma had previously been involved in F1 with Zakspeed between 1985 and 1989 but without any success.The West deal continues to this day although in 2002 the Reemtsma was taken over by BritainÕs Imperial Tobacco.