Philip Morris Ltd (PML) is launching its own sales force for the first time in more than 25 years as the firm prepares to end its distribution deal with Imperial Tobacco.

The Marlboro and Chesterfield manufacturer has signed a deal with field marketing agency, Cosine, which will see dedicated reps visiting retailers to offer product and category advice.

The first team will hit the streets of London this month, with further teams being established across the rest of the UK, said PML managing director Martin Inkster.

It follows on from a pilot scheme launched in Manchester last year, which saw a team of four reps offering category advice to local stores on behalf of the firm.

Mr Inkster said the move would also stand the company in good stead ahead of the upcoming tobacco display ban, adding: “By improving allocation of resources, we can ensure we’re adding value and growing retailer loyalty to the mutual benefit of all parties.”