New products and price ranges helped Imperial Tobacco to boost sales of its key brands and post an 8% rise in annual earnings per share.

The world's fourth-largest cigarette group has focused on economy brands such as JPS, Lambert & Butler and its roll-your-own products.

It has also raised prices for more affluent consumers in western Europe and the US.

Like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, it is expanding into emerging markets to offset declining smoking levels in many of its mature markets.

"We see significant growth opportunities in our rest of the world region across Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, and we'll continue to invest to support sustainable growth," Imperial said in a statement.

The company's tobacco net revenue rose 4% to £7 billion sterling. Its four key brands - upmarket Davidoff, mid-priced Gauloises Blondes and budget brands West and JPS - achieved a 7% lift in volumes, with revenues up 13%.

Group adjusted operating profit rose 4% to a little more than £3.1 billion. Overall combined cigarette and fine-cut tobacco volumes fell 2.7% in the year to September 30 because of tough markets in Poland, Ukraine and compliance with international trade sanctions against Syria.

The group sells more than 340 billion cigarettes a year.

It posted an 8% rise in adjusted annual earnings to 201 pence a share. Its annual dividend rose 11% to 105.6 pence a share, boosting its payout ratio from earnings to 52.5%.

In the UK and Germany - its two biggest markets - net revenues rose by 8% and 3% respectively thanks to product launches, while revenue rose 10% at its rest of the world region on healthy demand for its luxury Cuban cigars in Russia and the Middle East, and a strong performance in Asia Pacific.

In Spain, where high unemployment and government austerity measures have hit the market, the group said it took a non-cash impairment charge of £1.2 billion during the year because of tough macroeconomic indicators in the region.

Revenue in the Americas, where the US is its primary market, fell 11.4%, but the group said it had seen improvements during the second half of the year.