Nurofen firm lifts sales targets

NurofenHousehold goods and drugs giant Reckitt Benckiser saw a return to sales growth in Europe and North America as it recovered from a slow cold and flu season earlier this year.

Reckitt said like-for-like sales in the transatlantic region rose 2% in the third quarter after a 1% fall in the first half when fewer cases of the common cold and flu impacted demand for its Strepsils and Nurofen pain-relief range at the start of 2012.
The company - behind products ranging from Durex condoms to cleaning product Dettol - recently merged the European and North American divisions due to slower consumer spending and said the restructure was showing "encouraging early results".

Its fast growing emerging markets division continued to be the star performer, with an 11% hike in like-for-like sales across Latin America and Asia, which helped drive group-wide comparable sales up 5% in the quarter.

The group edged its sales targets higher for the full year, saying it expects sales to rise by 2% above market growth, which it now expects to be closer to 2%.

Shares lifted 6% as the third quarter sales figures beat market expectations.

Martin Deboo, analyst at Investec Securities, said the improvement in Europe and North America suggested plans put in place by recently appointed chief executive Rakesh Kapoor were "beginning to bear fruit in Reckitt Benckiser's most challenging region".

Mr Kapoor, who took up the top job last September, has refocused the business on emerging markets, while combining the Europe and North America divisions.

The group said conditions continued to be challenging across Europe and North America, but it said intense promotional activity in the laundry detergent market was settling down, while it was seeing signs of improvements across the Vanish range.

Its Mucinex decongestant also saw a very strong third quarter across the region after the recent launch of Mucinex Fast Max caplets.
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