Britain's Imperial Tobacco Group Plc said it made a good start to the year with underlying tobacco net revenue up 5 percent and increased cigarette and fine cut tobacco volumes.

The company confirmed that its overall operational performance and financial position for the year to September 30, 2011 is in line with its expectations.

Imperial Tobacco said it maintained its positive volume momentum in fine cut tobacco, mainly in its Rest of EU region and cigar volumes were also up with improved mix and strong results in the US and emerging markets.

Total stick equivalent volumes rose 1.2 percent with cigarette volumes increasing 0.5 percent and fine cut tobacco volumes growing by more than 6 percent, the world's fourth-biggest cigarette maker said.

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, whilst managing costs and effectively utilising our substantial cash flows, said chief executive Alison Cooper.

The company's portfolio of products includes Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes, West and JPS. Its key growth regions are the European Union, US, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East and Asia.

Reflecting our strong financial position, the Board envisages increasing the dividend pay-out ratio to 50 per cent of adjusted earnings in financial year 2011, the company said.

Shares of the company ended Tuesday's trading at 1,794 pence on the London Stock Exchange.