Coronavirus: Dettol-maker RB cleans up as pandemic sales soar

The maker of Dettol and Cillit Bang cleaning products has reported surging sales as consumers stocked up in the run-up to, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic.

As many companies struggle under the weight of coronavirus-related challenges, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) said comparable sales were 12% higher at £6.9bn in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2019.

Its hygiene division saw sales leap by more than 16% on the same basis.

A clamour among shoppers for surface disinfectants helped online sales grow by more than 60% and RB said it was to invest £100m over two years to accelerate growth in disinfectants as a result.

RB said that demand continued to outpace supply in this area and it was working to narrow the gap.

During its second quarter, the three months to the end of June, group like-for-like sales were 10.5% higher – smashing its earlier estimates of 7.8%.

The company, which also has Mucinex cough syrup, Durex and Harpic bleach in its stable of products, said it expected a high-single-digit underlying revenue performance in 2020 compared with the mid-single-digit sales growth initially expected.

RB signalled that it expected high levels of demand to remain this year given the continuing coronavirus outbreak and concerns about a winter resurgence.

Chief executive Laxman Narasimhan told investors: “Our largest brands are trusted by our consumers, as evident in their performance.

“Our supply chain has withstood the challenge of unprecedented demand, demonstrating agility and flexibility, albeit with additional costs and investments.

“Our Hygiene and base Health businesses have both performed well, with strong volume growth in challenging circumstances.”

RB shares – up 26% in the year to date – were 1% down in early deals on the FTSE 100.

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