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John Player & Sons


John Player founded his company in the mid-19th century in Nottingham. It was later expanded into a thriving cigaret te manufactory (based at the Castle Tobacco Factories in Radford, Nottingham - just west of the city centre) and run by his sons, Jo hn Dane Player and William Goodacre Player.

In 1901, in response to competitive threats from the USA, the Player's business was merged with the Imperial Tobacco Group ( headquartered in Bristol. The Imperial group included other companies such as W. D. & H. O. Wills). However, Players cigarettes retained their own identity (in brands such as 'Navy Cut', 'No.6', 'John Player Special' and 'Gold Leaf') with their distinctive log o of a smoking sailor in a 'Navy Cut' cap.

A new factory (the 'Horizon' factory) was opened in the early 1970s on Nottingham's industrial outskirts, with better road a ccess and more effective floor space, placed quite ironically next to the headquarters of Boots the Chemists.


John Player's brands are also well known among motor racing fans, following their long association with the Lotus Formula One team, and Norton motorcycle racing team. John Player's sponsorship of Team Lotus began with the Lotus 49 in Gold Leaf colours at the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix, continued with the Lotus 72, which changed to the black and gold John Player Special colours in 1972 and ended in 1986 with the Lotus 98T. Indeed, the liveries, particularly the JPS colours, are seen as some of the most beautiful in the racing w orld.

The JPS livery was also used by BMW in touring car racing in Australia during the 1980s. In 1984, BMW released a limited-edition roa d version of its 323i touring car in JPS colours to the Australian market.

Player's brands also sponsored the Forsythe Championship Racing team in Champ Car racing until tobacco advertising in automotive ser ies was banned in 2004.

The company also sponsored an influential series of celebrity lectures at the National Film Theatre between 1968 and 1973. Well over 100 international film stars took the stage to introduce screenings and discuss their career. The series was revived at the end of the 1970s under the new name of 'Guardian Lectures'.

Player's sponsored the Canadian Open tennis championship in the 1980s.


The old factories in Radford (especially the cavernous 'No.1 Factory') were gradually run down and the final d emolition of the 'No.3 Factory', with its distinctive clock and rooftop 'John Player & Sons' sign, came in the late 1980s.

Player's is still in existence, with a much reduced workforce (down to around 700 employees due to increased efficiency) but is no longer one of the Nottingham 'Big Three' employers (the other two being, Boots the Chemists and Raleigh Cycles).

Today, John Player Special and John Player King Size are manufactured by Imperial Tobacco, whereas John Player Gold Leaf is manufactured by British American Tobacco (in some countries), and ranks as one of the best selling and popular tobacco products in P akistan.

The JPS brand has also been repositioned in the last several years and is now a UK mid-price cigarette brand.

Player's Cigarettes are available in the following varieties:
  • Player's Plain (unfiltered)
  • Player's Filtered (regular now known as Player's Original)
  • Player's Medium
  • Player's Light (now referred to as Player's Rich)
  • Player's Light Smooth
  • Player's Extra Light
  • Player's Silver (Discontinued)
  • John Player Specials (JPS) (original black and gold, and also white in the UK)
  • Richmond (King Size and Smooth in the UK)
  • Richmond Superkings
  • Richmond Menthols
  • John Player King Size (Known as '20 Blue' in the Republic of Ireland)
  • All new John Player Standard
  • John Player (blue)
  • John Player (bright blue)
  • Silk Cut (purple, red, blue, silver)
  • Windsor Blue (light & smooth)