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PZ Cussons chief says hand-sanitising habits here to stay

Tanishaa Nadkar
·2-min read

By Tanishaa Nadkar

(Reuters) - PZ Cussons, the maker of Imperial Leather soap and Carex handwash, posted a higher first-half adjusted pretax profit on Tuesday and said it expects the coronavirus crisis to have a lasting impact on people's stringent hygiene practises even after the pandemic starts to ease.

While the size of some industries is expected to go back to pre-pandemic level, a few will remain massive as certain habits look like they are going to endure, the British company said.

"With lockdowns relaxing, people going to schools, offices and cinemas, we're seeing potential for people to carry bottles of sanisiters with them like they carry their car keys and mobile phones around," Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Myers told Reuters.

The St. Tropez maker said adjusted pretax profit jumped 18.7% to 34.9 million pounds ($47.61 million) for the six months ended Nov. 30, adding that it expects to perform in line with the current range of market expectations for the fiscal year.

"The pandemic has boosted demand for hygiene products and cultural memory of the crisis means habits such as stringent and regular handwashing are likely to remain legacies of COVID," AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said, adding that Myers' strategy had already started to bear fruit.

"What Myers is attempting isn't rocket science. He's simply trying to clean up the mess left by several predecessors by focusing investment on key brands".

Cussons had stepped up marketing for its leading brands such as Carex by more than a third compared with last year, as it battles new entrants in the growing hand sanitiser market, Myers said.

The company, founded more than 130 years ago in Sierra Leone, also said it was seeing some delays in material supply due to Brexit, but added that the initial effects of the departure have been managed with only a minor adverse impact.

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)