Vaping giant Juul has made cuts to its UK field rep team in response to challenges in its domestic US vaping market.

More than 10 Juul business development managers have confirmed they are no longer employed by the company and a source told betterRetailing there had been “lots and lots” of redundancies over the Christmas period. Store owners in areas that had lost their local rep told betterRetailing they were unaware of the change.

One former staff member explained: “Lots and lots of people are affected, they didn’t say too much to us about it apart from that it was because of problems in America.” Other non-retail facing Juul staff were also affected.

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In late October the company announced plans to cut 15% of its global workforce. “To right-size the business, the workforce will be reduced between now and the end of the year,” Juul said at the time.

The deaths of more than 50 vapers in the US associated with unrelated black market e-liquids, most containing cannabis compounds, alongside concerns about underage users fuelled successful calls for a federal ban on flavoured vaping products in America. The move is expected to significantly damage sales of legitimate brands in the world’s biggest vaping market.

In the UK, Juul had expanded its field team from 25 to 75 reps between February and May 2019. The team were tasked with delivering stock, providing promotional material, educating retailers on the opportunities in vaping and helping to enforce the firm’s Challenge 25 policy, which is required of all stockists.

The expansion saw the company achieve listings with nearly all major wholesalers, multiples and symbol groups in 2019, with the brand quickly overtaking established rivals. It became Sainsbury’s best-selling e-cigarette within eight weeks of being introduced behind the counter.

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