19 Apr 2012

Tobacco company says NZ won contract from Asia

8:54 pm on 19 April 2012

Global cigarette giant Imperial Tobacco says it refutes claims that Australian jobs have been moved to New Zealand to take advantage of cheap labour on this side of the Tasman.

The company's Lower Hutt factory will be upgraded next year so it can increase exports to Australia from one to four billion cigarettes a year.

The number of manufacturing staff is expected to go up from 70 to 120.

Australia's Council of Trade Unions says companies there are setting up business in New Zealand because of the cheap labour.

But Imperial Tobacco's factory manager, Mike McInnarney, says they won the contract from Asia, which has much cheaper labour.

"A major selling factor for us the expertise of the team in New Zealand," he says. "We have a good reputation in Australia for the quality of our product ... and it's been a really good result for us".

Mr McInnarney says cheaper transport options and other logistical benefits also played a part in the company's success.