Gallaher Group, the maker of Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut cigarettes has reported a 24.1% increase in interim pre-tax profit to £200m due to improvements in cash flow and growing its share in key markets.

The total turnover for the six months ended June 30 was £4,673m, up 8.1% from the £4,325m reported for this period in 2003.

The company plans to increase its shares of the growing value cigarette sector in the UK, as well as defending its leading positions in the premium sector. It also aims to maintain its strong position in Austria and Sweden and grow share elsewhere.

In addition, the company is taking legal action in Ireland to reverse laws than ban open retail displays of tobacco products, according to media reports.