Swedish Match AB, the Swedish maker of smokeless tobacco, hired former world speedway champion Tony Rickardsson to head its eastern European operations, marrying two of Sweden’s favorite pastimes: snuff and motorcycle racing.
The 39-year-old Swede, who won six motorbike speedway world titles between 1994 and 2005, will join the Stockholm-based company in October after driving for his own team in the Porsche Carrera Cup car racing series, Swedish Match said today.
As area manager of the company’s eastern European region, Rickardsson will be responsible for selling Cricket lighters, Korona matches and Macanudo cigars in countries such as Russia and Ukraine. Swedish Match, which has sponsored his racing career since the start of 2002, is seeking to expand beyond Scandinavia, where it gets 42 percent of revenue.
“Tony will continue to add value and grow this strategic area, representing good potential and high importance for our business,” said Hakan Soderberg, chief operating officer of Continental Europe for Swedish Match International.
After winning the world speedway championship for the last time in 2005, Rickardsson retired from race riding in 2006. Speedway racers take their brakeless motorbikes around an oval track four times, in a contest that lasts about a minute. The sport, which also takes place on ice on motorbikes equipped with spikes, is popular in Scandinavia and Poland.