The UK’s first ‘own brand’ smokeless cigarette cash and carry is set to provide a jobs boost to Heanor for years to come, its owners say.
Mister Smoke on Red Lion Square is set to target the wholesale market for the increasingly popular e-cigarette - which releases nicoteine when inhaled, but has none of the 69 cancer causing toxins of normal cigarettes.
The firm has already employed 14 people and sales executive Simon Bozeat believes the market could expand rapidly over the coming years.
“It’s going to explode.” He said. “It grew 400 per cent last year and we think it could be about 1,000 per cent this yea, in 2013 it’s just going to go crazy.”
Mister Smoke is backed by the Chinese company Sweet Cigs, which manufactures the products in a factory in Shenzen.
Mr Bozeat said the products on offer at Mr Smoke differ from other e-cigarettes in that they are ‘fully customisable’.
Customers can chose the nicotine strength and package design of their ‘cig’ before ordering a shipment.
The company also offers a choice of 200 flavours ranging from beer, to banana - or even just tobacco.
Heanor was chosen to be Sweet Cigs’ UK headquarters for its wholesaling operation because of its centrality and ease of connection to motorways.
“We have a firm belief this is going to replicate what happened with the tobacco industry years ago.” Mr Bozeat said. “People used to chew tobacco - then we learned to hand roll it and then the cigarette rolling machine was invented - this is the next stage.”
Business development executive for the company Glyn Williams said, although the products are not licenced as a quitting aid yet, research suggests the e-cigs have the same effect on health as a strong cup of coffee.
He said: “It’s about getting people’s heads round it.
“It’s not nicoteine that’s harmful it’s the delivery method of smoke - that’s the bad thing.”
With Mister Smoke outlets set to open in Ilkeston and Hucknall in the coming weeks - business owner Steve Brimble believes staff could double at the Heanor depot in the next year. He added: “Our only aim is to expand.”
Mayor of Heanor and Loscoe Town Council Cllr Bob Janes opened the store on Thursday. He said: “It’s a really good day for the town and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”