The Imperial Tobacco Group has announced that David Cresswell will retire as manufacturing director in December.

Cresswell has been in the role for five years and has been with the company for 46 years. He was previously MD of Imperial's Rizla business. Chief executive Gareth Davis credited him as the driving force behind the company's productivity improvement and cost efficiency.

His responsibilities will be transferred to Gary Aldridge, who is Imperial's regional operations director for the Far East, eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East. Aldridge will become a member of the group's chief executive's committee.

"Gary has played a key role in the successful development of Imperial Tobacco's manufacturing strategy," said Davis. "His international manufacturing experience will be of great benefit to the group."

In a trading update on Wednesday, Imperial said its UK market share and profitability had increased.