Imperial Tobacco is targeting smokers who want to trade down rather than give up with the first Golden Virginia brand extension in 130 years.

Golden Virginia Yellow is to be launched on 2 March at a lower price point than the original green variety. It will be available in 12.5g, 25g and 50g packs with rsps of £2.73, £5.35 and £10.59 respectively. This compares with £2.99, £5.87 and £11.62 for original Golden Virginia. There will also be price-marked packs for the independent trade at £2.65 for 12.5g and £5.25 for 25g.

The roll-your-own sector was the fastest-growing segment of the tobacco market, said Imperial. It rose 11% by volume in the year to October and was currently worth £820m, according to the company, which projected 10% growth for the sector this year.

The growth in the RYO market was being driven by consumers trading down from ready-made cigarettes to cheaper alternatives, claimed Imperial Tobacco UK trade communications manager Iain Watkins.

“With the economy the way it is people are trading down,” he said. “It is fascinating to see the same thing emerging in roll your own.”

Last month, Imperial estimated the UK tobacco market had dipped in value by 2% to 3% since the 2007 smoking ban.