Cigarette giant Imperial Tobacco has posted a double digit increase in UK sales this year in a declining market and maintained operating profits at a similar level to last year. Chairman Derek Bonham said the performance was excellent given the declining market, downtrading effects and the costs of introducing the new Duty Paid regime. The bottom line was maintained by raising prices and driving sales through strong marketing, said Bonham. Turnover from UK operations, including duty, rose 14% to £4.1bn. Group pre-tax profit rose 11% to £509m on sales up 13% to £5.9bn for the year to September 29. Imperial has a 41% share of the UK cigarette market, owning brands that include Lambert & Butler, Richmond, and Golden Virginia tobacco. {{NEWS }}