British American Tobacco has demonstrated the resilience of the tobacco market amid the economic gloom by posting sales increases of nearly 20% in sales and profits for the year to date.

The company, whose leading brands include Lucky Strike and Rothmans, reported a 19% hike in sales for the year to 30 September to £8.7bn, while profits improved by 18% to £2.71bn.

“Although there is general concern about the prospects for the world economy and consumer behaviour over the next couple of years, these results demonstrate that there has been no discernible effect on British American Tobacco,” said BAT chairman Jan du Plessis.

“We continue to benefit from the extent of our geographic diversity, which will also help to protect shareholders from the impact of volatility in the foreign exchange markets.”

The results come after rival tobacco group Philip Morris International last week racked up a 21% hike in profits for the past three months to $2.1bn, while sales rose 22% to $17.3bn.