Interview with Alison Cooper

Chief ExecutiveImperial Tobacco Group

"Two words sum up the global economy currently for me and they are fragility and volatility. Wherever you look, things are shifting very rapidly indeed."

"We’re very much focused on generating growth, but strategically I think it’s important that it is quality growth. We’re looking for sustainable growth for the business."

"...the key asset we’re focusing on in this environment is our people and what they do; their values, how they work in this environment. Investing in that is absolutely essential given the issues that we have to deal with as a business."

"For Imperial, the two really big threats for us are clearly the economy and the regulation of our products."

"The key in this environment is the people agenda. I think it’s one of the easier things to cut in terms of investment when you’re in a tough environment, but I think it’s essential that companies continue to invest in their people."

"...we’ve worked on engagement because with uncertainty, with economic difficulties, employees need to be clear around what we’re doing as a business, how they fit within that and how they get really motivated to do their best work."

"That’s the key shift that we’ve made over the last couple of years: if we want to drive those shareholder returns we’ve got to get other stakeholders right. That means changing our approach in terms of our employees, in terms of our customers and in terms of our suppliers."

"We focus on four key areas through our responsibility agenda and one of them is about reinvestment in the communities in which we operate. That’s driven very much by our agenda, our values and our desire to be a sustainable business rather than any particular stakeholder agenda."

"I think there is an indirect link between the agility of the company and its focus on the responsibility agenda: responsibility is really a great way of living our values, what we believe in as an organisation, and it helps to underpin the behaviours necessary for a business to be agile."

"Our values in Imperial are all about a ‘we can’ approach to things. The idea that together we win, together we get better solutions. It’s around driving ownership of the agenda within the organisation right down through it."


As part of PwC's 16th Annual Global CEO Survey, we spoke with Alison Cooper, Chief Executive of Imperial Tobacco Group. In this short video, Alison talks about generating sustainable growth, the importance of investing in the people agenda, and reinvesting in the communities where Imperial operates.

Since being appointed as Chief Executive in 2010, Alison has led the development and implementation of the Group’s sustainable sales growth strategy. Alison joined the Group in 1999 and, through a number of senior roles, has contributed significantly to the international expansion of the Group including leading the Altadis acquisition team. She has been a Non-Executive Director of Inchcape plc since July 2009.
  These interviews contain the opinions and views of the CEOs interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of PwC.


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