Cigarette sales rise at Imperial

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The Independent Online

Imperial Tobacco is bucking the worldwide trend by selling more cigarettes in the UK than it was a year ago as smokers look for cheaper brands.

The world's fourth-biggest cigarette maker said yesterday that economic conditions and illicit trade had had an impact on total volumes, which fell by 2.9 per cent to 345.5 billion in the year to 30 September. This "white-stick equivalent" figure takes into account an increase in sales of fine cut tobacco.

In the UK, the producer of Lambert & Butler cigarettes and Rizla roll-up papers saw a slight increase in cigarette volumes to 21.1 billion, up from 20.8 billion the year before. Imperial said British smokers were turning to cheaper brands, which also led to a 13 per cent increase in tobacco volumes to 5,050 tonnes.

Despite falling volumes, price rises saw Imperial post a 10 per cent gain in pre-tax profits to £2.5bn on net revenues up 3 per cent to £7.1bn.