Philip Morris has stubbed out its Basic cigarette brand in the UK, less than two years after launch, despite favourable performances from other brands in the budget sector.

The company said it was withdrawing support for Basic after disappointing sales and would be phasing it out over the summer.

Javier Muller, general manager, said: "As the brand has not been able to meet our expectations, it is not viable for us to continue supporting it. We will work with our customers to find a mutually acceptable sell-through plan."

The company launched Basic in July 2004 and last year added a Superkings version to the range. The rising fortunes of the bud­get sector prompted rivals Imperial Tobacco to acquire the Windsor Blue brand last year and Gallaher to roll out the Sterling brand to all channels earlier this year.

However, despite the success of the sector, Philip Morris has admitted that its brand's share of the UK ­cigarette market is currently less than 0.3% and the decision to discontinue has come as no surprise to many in the industry, who saw the brand struggle against its competitors.

Cynthia Williams, Somerfield's head of ­tobacco, said: "Basic was floundering along, but it saw an uplift in sales around the time of the budget when people really looked to trade down - this may have been due to its price-marked packs, which looked like a special offer."

Williams said in general the budget end of the market continued to thrive as consumers looked to trade down. She said Windsor Blue and Sterling -both former own label brands - were doing well.

"Windsor Blue is fairly new to us and, although all new brands take time to settle in, it has taken off at a better pace," she added.

Muller said Philip Morris would continue to focus its efforts on other brands, including Chesterfield and Raffles, as well as premium brand Marlboro, which has shown slight growth. "We will support Marlboro as we currently do and look for opportunities to grow its market share."