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 £2.15 billion in the year to September 30, up 1% 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.
In the UK, Imperial saw profits fall from £614m to £577m, with sales also lower and market share dropping slightly to 45.1%.
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% 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 by opened with one hand using a thumb to slide open the pack.
The UK cigarette market overall was down by 5% and hit by the increase in VAT to 20% in January. The fine cut tobacco market remained buoyant, up by 9%. Weaknesses in Europe were offset by emerging markets growth.
Profits in Eastern Europe rose by 21%, in Africa and the Middle East by 8% and in Asia-Pacific by 27%. Total revenues rose by 3.5% to £29.2 billion.
Cooper said she was particularly pleased with the growth in the key strategic brands Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes, West and JPS adding that the group was “confident of being able to build on growth”.
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