New Zealand’s largest retailer of e-cigarettes is set to open up to 20 stores throughout Australia within the next 18 months.
The expansion of the Shosha chain comes as increasing numbers of people turn to combustible cigarette smoking alternatives.
According to latest figures, the use of e-cigarettes is growing in many countries including Australia, with the majority of users being current smokers. Australian research has found that almost one third (31%) of smokers have tried e-cigarettes and current e-cigarette use is most common among smokers aged 18-24.
Nabhik Gupta spokesperson for NZ owned Shosha says the expansion will take place despite the introduction of new regulations on July 1 which will further restrict the online sale of the products and prevents the company from exporting nicotine vaping products to its Australian customer base.
Earlier this month, the Australian Government advised that it would extend its nicotine ban to prevent not only the sale of products containing nicotine but also the importation of them. The change is set to come into effect in just 12 days from when it was first announced - on July 1.
The planned ban will remain in place for 12 months to allow for public consultation on the regulation of nicotine products by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The TGA is considering an amendment to the Poisons Standard which would mean vaporiser nicotine products would require a prescription. A final decision is expected to be made in 2021.
Since the announcement, Shosha recorded a surge in sales to its Australian consumers.
The new stores will see the company’s total number of Australasian outlets increase to 85, following the opening of five in recent months in New Zealand.
Gupta says the company has already tested the market over the past seven months with the opening of an inner-city store in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
He says the differences in the trans-Tasman operating environment are pronounced, with an entirely different regulatory system governing the sale of their products.
“There are significant variations between each country’s Government towards the sale of nicotine vaping products; with New Zealand preferring to educate consumers on their use, while in Australia they have prohibited their sale and now, their importation.
“The launch of our first store in Sydney has been well received in a rapidly growing market and has given us sufficient confidence that we can scale up the export of our New Zealand retail model throughout Australia,” he says.
Gupta says the company plans to open up to 20 stores in Victoria, Gold Coast, South Australia and New South Wales but is awaiting the creation of a travel bubble between the two countries.
“Once trans-Tasman travel resumes we will be able to visit these states and assess the potential of a number of retail sites and progress our international plans from there,” he says.