Independent c-stores are losing their share of the cigarette market to the multiples, Imperial Tobacco's latest UK Tobacco Category Overview has revealed.

Britain's 43,300 indie c-stores held a 43.9% market share in 2009, down from 45.2% in 2008, the review showed. In value terms, the stores took £4.38bn of the UK's £9.9bn cigarette sales, down from £4.43bn.

By contrast, the multiple supermarkets increased their market share from 42.6% to 44.6%, while multiple c-stores' share rose from 4.6% to 4.9%.

However, multiple forecourts and multiple off-licences lost share, which slipped from 4.4% to 4.1% and 3.2% to 2.5% respectively.

The next few years would be challenging for all sectors, Imperial Tobacco UK general manager Amal Pramanik wrote in the review. "Legislation looks set to fundamentally change the way tobacco products are sold in a retail environment," he said.