Welcome to our Annual Report for 2017. I am pleased to be reporting for the first time as Chairman of the Board of Directors, particularly as Scandinavian Tobacco Group continues its tradition of delivering high cash flow whilst allowing for attractive shareholder returns.
In 2017, we saw a number of changes to the Board of Directors. We were delighted to welcome Henrik Brandt while Conny Karlsson stepped down ending seven years of service as Swedish Match completed their divestment of shares in Scandinavian Tobacco Group.
2017 was a difficult year for the Group. Early on we encountered issues in our online business in Cigars International, which led to profit downgrade. The business did recover from the weak start and has since improved quarter by quarter. Simultaneously, the Group has consistently delivered on its strategy and significantly improved operational performance.
Despite financial headwinds, we are able to deliver a dividend of DKK 925 million to shareholders – of which DKK 350 million was extraordinary. This is indeed testament to the strong underlying business and cash flow in Scandinavian Tobacco Group