Imperial growth in emerging markets

The owner of the Gauloises, Lambert & Butler and Davidoff tobacco brands yesterday hailed growth in emerging markets as annual profits edged higher.

Imperial Tobacco made profits of £2.15bn in the year to September 30, up 1 per cent on a year ago and despite a fierce price war and smoking ban hitting profits in Spain.

Profits in Spain tumbled from £268m to £200m, though chief executive Alison Cooper said the market had now stabilised and prices had recovered.

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In the UK, Imperial saw profits fall from £614m to £577m, with sales also lower and market share dropping slightly to 45.1 per cent.

The group said the timing of a price increase had hit UK revenues but its share of the lower-end “economy” sector had grown to 46 per cent with good performances from value brands JPS Silver and Windsor Blue.

The group added it has recently started to roll-out new GlideTec packs for Lambert and Butler in the UK, which can be opened with one hand using a thumb to slide open the pack.

The UK cigarette market overall was down by 5 per cent and hit by the rise in VAT to 20 per cent.

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