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Imperial Tobacco profit up

May 9, 2001
Web posted at: 0921 GMT

LONDON (CNN) -- The UK's No. 2 cigarette maker Imperial Tobacco said first-half net profit rose 7 percent as international and domestic sales grew.

The maker of cigarettes, as well as roll-your-own and pipe tobacco, said on Wednesday profits for the first six months rose to £161 million pounds ($230 million) from £151 million pounds in the same period a year ago.

Imperial bought a majority stake in France's Tobaccor last month after acquiring Belgian tobacco company Baelen International last year as it continued its push into the European market.

"The results reflect continued organic growth, further cost efficiencies and the benefits of our" programme of acquisitions, said Imperial Chief Executive Gareth Davies.

The company said the rate of decline of the UK tobacco market is slowing as the UK Customs & Excise clamps down on non-UK duty paid products being brought in by so-called bootleggers from countries such as Belgium, France and The Netherlands.

Imperial said it boosted its market share in the UK by one percentage point to 39 percent on sales of cigarette brands such as Embassy and Lambert & Butler, and rolling tobacco like Golden Virginia and Drum.

The company said turnover in the six months to March 24 rose 3 percent to £2.76 billion from £2.68 billion.

Imperial (IMT) shares fell 0.5 percent to 742.5 pence in London trading.



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