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PZ Cussons sales down as hygiene craze eases from pandemic peak, shares drop

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(Reuters) -Soap maker PZ Cussons PLC's revenue declined in the first quarter as demand for its hand wash, sanitisers and other hygiene products eased from heights hit during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, dragging its shares down 8%.

Still, the Imperial Leather soap maker said it expects to return to growth in the three months to November.

"Sales may be coming off their peak, but our experts say the amount we spend on hygiene and personal cleansing products will be sustained at higher levels than before the pandemic," said Third Bridge analyst Alex Smith.

First-quarter revenue fell 9% year-on-year but was 13% higher than 2019 levels.

The Carex handwash maker also forecast fiscal 2022 profit within its current forecast range, as it has been ramping up prices to battle cost inflation.

PZ Cussons said sales of St Tropez, the faux tan brand made popular by reality TV star Kim Kardashian, benefited from a campaign by model Ashley Graham in the United States, partially offsetting a decline in the UK personal care business.

The Manchester-based company said its adjusted profit before tax from continuing operations rose to 68.6 million pounds ($93.64 million) for the year ended May 31, compared with 61.8 million pounds last year.

($1 = 0.7326 pounds)

(Reporting by Priyanshi Mandhan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Devika Syamnath)

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