The maker of top cleaning brands including Dettol and Cillit Bang, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), has reported a recovery in condom sales thanks to relaxed coronavirus restrictions.
The FTSE 100 company, which has been among the few winners in the COVID-19 crisis to date thanks to its household hygiene and healthcare products, reported a 9.5% lift in net revenue to £3.5bn during its third quarter.
RB said that was mainly driven by continued strong demand for disinfectants – with sales of Dettol-branded sprays, wipes and liquid up more than 50% on the same July-September period last year.
Like-for-like sales were almost 20% higher in the company’s hygiene business and 12.6% up in its health division, which includes Durex condoms and Mucinex cold medicine.
RB had pointed to a sharp drop in demand for condoms during the spring virus lockdowns across Europe.
But it said on Tuesday: “Following a more challenging first half of the year, relaxations of social distancing regulations resulted in improved demand for our sexual well-being products, including Durex, which saw double digit growth in revenue.
“This has been particularly pronounced in markets where the rate of pandemic infection has materially improved.”
A re-tightening of restrictions could threaten that recovery.
Nevertheless, RB raised its full-year net revenue outlook to a low double digit increase.
Shares, up by almost a fifth in the year to date, rose by 2.6% at the open.
RB told investors that its investment plans, including ramping up production in surface disinfectants, were on track.
Chief executive Laxman Narasimhan said: “Our plan to rejuvenate sustainable growth at RB is gaining momentum, and thanks to the exceptional efforts of the RB team, we are beginning to see the positive impact that the transformation is having on the business.
“The strong momentum in the first half has continued in Q3 and we are on track to deliver low double digit like-for-like net revenue growth for the full year.”
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the performanced: “Our pursuit of cleanliness during the pandemic has been hugely beneficial for the group, and the signs are that the crisis is leading to a longer term behaviour shift with consumers demanding reassurance that workplaces, shops and public transport are germ free.
“The company has sold into 19 new markets in 2020 alone and now has upgraded revenue growth to be in the low double digits for the year, compared to previous forecasts of high single digits.”