IMPERIAL Tobacco yesterday said a boost in Rizla cigarette paper sales and hand-rolling tobacco helped them notch up £2.5billion profits.
They also said they sold more cigarettes in the UK than a year ago, bucking the worldwide trend.
Bosses said economic conditions and illicit trade hit total volumes, which fell 2.9 per cent to 345.5billion in the year to September 30.
In the UK, Imperial, who make Lambert & Butler cigarettes, Rizla roll-up papers and Drum fine-cut tobacco, saw a slight increase in cigarette volumes to 21.1billion, up from 20.8billion in the previous year.
The Bristol company said UK consumers were turning to cheaper brands, which also led to a 13 per cent increase in fine-cut tobacco volumes to 5050 tons.
Despite overall falling volumes, price increases saw Imperial turn in a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £2.5billion and a three per cent rise in net revenues to £7.1billion.
Imperial, who sell in 160 countries, said they had seen strong performances from core brands Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes and West, which make up a fifth of cigarette volumes.