JTI Mexico

JTI Mexico

The Mexican branch of the global tobacco corporation, JTI Mexico has expanded dramatically in the last two years in what has proved to be a key market for the company. The in-house legal team encompasses the corporate affairs function and is highly diligent and skilled in protecting the brand as well as facilitating its expansion. Edgar Martinez, legal and corporate affairs director, leads the legal team with Alejandra Velazquez, legal senior associate, managing the day-to-day work, assisted by Bernardo Charbel, legal associate, who reports to Velazquez. The corporate affairs and communications (CAC) department is also lead by Martinez, with Hiram Vera, corporate affairs manager, assisted by Priscila Chavez, communications associate. As a result of the termination of a joint venture agreement through legal proceedings in 2017, JTI Mexico has greatly expanded its operations from having 25 office employees and around 60 external vendors for the distribution of the Winston brand, to an organisation of around 60 employees and around 700 external vendors for the distribution of the Winston, Camel and Salem brands. JTI is heavily investing in Mexico because of the market’s potential and the team’s credibility to manage the brands. Martinez highlights that, ‘this result would not have been possible without the legal and CAC department. The needs of an expanding organisation exploded, requiring a lot of structure and organised work from the legal and CAC department’. The team has been facilitating the defence of the outcome of legal proceedings as it has been challenged by an opposing party. This has been an international process with the involvement of JTI legal teams in Switzerland and Japan as well as external counsel. It demonstrates the skill and determination of the JTI Mexico team in its coordination and the tenacity of its defence of the JTI brand. Speaking of this tenacity, Martinez identifies that the team’s motto is that ‘we are part of the company and the company exists to do business. We help the business while making sure all the operations strictly comply with the law and our code of conduct. This is developed through the deep understanding of the business operations, and the constant study of the law and regulations in a very active environment’.