Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB), the owner of John Player and Gauloises, said its tobacco arm increased market share in its five key markets over the past six months.

Losses in vaping and other next generation products (NGPs) had also reduced, said the FTSE 100 group in a trading update ahead of its first-half numbers, with profits higher in logistics.

As a result, the cigarette group expects results this year to end September to be in line with previous guidance and underlying operating profits to grow by a low-mid single-digit percentage.

In the first half (to end-March), group net revenue will grow by at least 1% on an organic, constant currency basis, said the statement, driven by continued strong pricing in tobacco, as well as some benefit from growth in NGP revenues against a weak comparator period.

In tobacco and cigarettes, market share gains in the US, UK and Spain offset declines in Germany and Australia.

Overall tobacco volumes are in line with expectations although COVID-19 continues to affect consumer buying patterns across different channels and markets. In NGP, market trials in vapour and heated tobacco later this year are on track.  

Currencies are expected to be broadly neutral in the first half and be a 2% headwind over the full year, while tax charges will rise to around 23%.

Interim results for the six months ended 31 March 2021 will be announced on 18 May 2021.

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