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British American Tobacco celebrates 100 years in Southampton
FOR 100 years it has been one of Southampton’s premier businesses, employing thousands of workers and boosting the local economy.
Today British American Tobacco (BAT) marks its centenary year in the city, where the heart of its research and development work is now based.
And such is the firm’s commitment to the city, David O’Reilly, BAT’s group scientific director, said he would be “surprised” if the global tobacco manufacturers were not in Southampton in another 100 years’ time.
The momentous occasion will be marked with the burial of a time capsule – containing heirlooms from the past 100 years – on the grounds of its site off Waterhouse Way this morning.
BAT chief executive Nicandro Durante will be one of the guests, including Southampton mayor Cllr Ivan White, for the event Despite relocating its manufacturing arm abroad to Korea and Singapore in 2005, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, the firm now employs more staff members than it did when the previous factories were in operation.
Mr O’Reilly, who joined the company 23 years ago, said the firm was “proud” to have been a major employer and held a “significant presence” in Southampton for 100 years.
He said: “Today we have over 1,000 people employed in Southampton, covering a broad spectrum of activity from world class science, cuttingedge innovation and technology, complex regional supply chain hubs and all of the supporting expertise that a global organisation needs.
“I trust that this tradition remains and that British American Tobacco continues to be one of the city’s largest employers and a fixed part of the Southampton community.
“We are absolutely committed to Southampton. It’s only regrettable that we [the current staff] will not be here in 2113 to see where it is in the city.
“I would be surprised if we [BAT] are not here in another 100 years’ time.
We are changing with the times, not looking backwards but forwards.”
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