Imperial Tobacco’s fine-cut sales during the three months to the end of December, boosted by strong growth in make-your-own tobacco sales in Western and Central Europe, were nine per cent higher than those of the three months to the end of December 2011.
Nevertheless, Imperial’s total stick equivalent volumes (cigarettes and fine-cut) were down by one per cent, according to an interim management statement issued ahead of today’s annual general meeting.
The company’s key strategic cigarette brands, Davidoff, Gauloises, West and JPS were said to have performed well.
Premium cigar volumes grew by three per cent on the back of the success of Montecristo mini cigars, which were launched last year.
And Scandinavian snus sales increased by 33 per cent.
Imperial said that its EU performance was impacted by further declines in the size of the licit market and the rise of the illicit trade, in what remained a competitive and tough economic environment.
But in Australia, where all tobacco products have been sold in plain packaging since December 1, there had been no significant change in consumption trends and Imperial said it was continuing to develop strategic initiatives that would support the long-term growth of its portfolio.
Imperial said it was confident in its strategic focus and was continuing to increase investment behind its ‘key total tobacco assets and geographies’.
‘Given our ongoing investment and the European market pressures we expect first half adjusted operating profit to be down year on year,’ it added.
‘Our full year results remain in line with our expectations, reflecting the benefits from an acceleration of a cost optimization programme designed to fund our continued investments and offset the current European market pressures; we expect that around 55 per cent of adjusted operating profits will be delivered in the second half.’
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