Imperial Tobacco said half-year profit and turnover has been boosted by its acquisition of German cigarette maker Reemtsma and warned that extra duty on put cigarettes in the Budget could increase “purchases from elsewhere in the EU”.

For the six months to March 31 pre-tax profit rose to £290m from £261m on turnover which jumped 70% to £5.4bn from £3.2bn last year.

Imperial said its has improved its share of cigarette sales in the UK to 43.8% in the first half of 2003 from 42.4%. The growth was driven mainly by the Richmond brand as well as sales of Lambert & Butler, the company added.

Chief executive Gareth Davis said the Reemtsma deal has so far delivered synergies of £45m and is on schedule to meet a target of £140m in 2003 and at least £170m in 2004.

In Germany, Imperial said its cigarette share stabilised in the first half at around 20% with continued growth from Davidoff and an uplift in the West share, which offset a decline in the more traditional brands, said the company.

The company said its trading outlook for the second half of the year continues to be positive, despite pressures in some markets.