Published Friday, 01 August 2014
One Direction formed on the X Factor in 2010. (© Getty)
The group's third album - Midnight Memories - was the biggest-selling release internationally, giving UK acts the top seller for the sixth year out of seven.
It clocked up sales of four million in the space of six weeks, beating US rapper Eminem into second place.
New analysis by music industry trade body BPI for its 2014 yearbook showed UK acts took a 13% share of global sales, excluding those for compilations.
The figure is down marginally - by 0.3% - on the 2012 figure but showed Brits still proved to be hugely popular, accounting for a quarter of the top 40 best-selling albums internationally.
Among the strong performers were Robbie Williams for Swings Both Ways (the 18th biggest seller around the world) and David Bowie's comeback album The Next Day (at 35).
Adele's 21 and Babel by Mumford & Sons continued to clock up huge sales.
BPI spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "For (UK) talent to have recorded the world's biggest-selling album six out of the last seven years is a phenomenal achievement that says a great deal about the popularity of British music around the world.
"Aside from the obvious contribution to British exports, this success underlines the vital role that our music and artists play in promoting the appeal of British culture around the world."
© UTV News