Imperial Tobacco warns that black market could hit first-half profit

Imperial Tobacco said this morning it expects first half operating profit to be down year on year, hit by growing competition from the black market in Europe.

The cigarette group said this morning that market trends had worsened in a number of key markets, including the EU and Russia.

Imperial, which makes brands including JPS, Davidoff and Gauloises Blondes, added that full-year results remain in line with expectations, although around 55 per cent of adjusted operating profits would be delivered in the second half.

“The growth momentum in key markets in Africa and the Middle East and Asia-Pacific is being offset by the current adverse market dynamics in Europe, with increasing levels of illicit trade,” said chief executive Alison Cooper.

Additionally, the company said its finance director Bob Dybrus will retire following a 25-year tenure at Imperial, and that it has appointed Mark Williamson as deputy chairman of the board.