Imperial Tobacco has unveiled a 5% rise in tobacco sales in final three months of 2010, with rolling tobacco the main driver of growth for the Golden Virginia maker.

Cigarette volumes were up 0.5% over the period to 31 December, with volumes of cut tobacco up 6.3%. In the UK, volumes were described as “stable”.

Chief executive Alison Cooper hailed “a good start to the year”. “We continue to drive sales across our total tobacco portfolio,” she said.

“Our enhanced sales strategy is delivering tangible results. We continue to focus on strengthening our position in markets where challenges persist, particularly in Spain and Greece, and on building sales across our international footprint, while managing costs and effectively utilising our substantial cash flows.”

Meanwhile, Arthur van Benthem, formerly customer management director at Metro Group, is to join Imperial as group sales director on 1 March. In an unrelated move, Michael Herlihy takes over as chairman of the board’s remuneration committee from Pierre Jungels.