Consumer goods firm PZ Cussons has revealed the ongoing pandemic is helping sales of its Carex soap products soar – cementing its position as the biggest hand wash brand in the UK.
The increased sales helped overall revenues in the six months to November 30 jump 10.2% to £321.9 million, although pre-tax profits fell slightly from £36.8 million to £36.3 million due to increased costs.
Bosses said its “focus brands” were particularly strong – up 21.9% – driven by Carex, Morning Fresh, Cussons Baby and St Tropez products.
They also warned that the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, and continued closure of the high street, could prove tricky for the year ahead.
Chairwoman Caroline Silver said: “The external environment continues to remain very challenging and volatile, but we remain focused on developing our strategic plans that will benefit all stakeholders in the longer term.”
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the company said: “We expect continued economic uncertainty associated with Covid-19, the risk of weaker consumer confidence combined with already evident upward cost pressure.
“Despite these external headwinds, we plan to continue to increase investment in our brands.”
PZ Cussons’ Europe and Americas division saw the strongest growth during the period, rising 32.5% to £117.1 million where soap and hand sanitiser remained strong – despite an increase in competition in the market as competitors tried to cash in on the pandemic.
It said: “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been unprecedented growth in the hand wash and especially the hand sanitiser categories in the UK.
“However, demand continues to remain volatile and difficult to predict. We also see an increase in competition with new market entrants, especially in hand sanitiser.”
PZ Cussons’ Carex soap brand was the star performer, accounting for 37% of the UK hand wash market and 27% of all hand sanitiser sales.
Original Source product sales fell slightly – bosses have previously reported employees working from home washing less, although the company said the drop was due to less discounting.
Beauty product sales were down “modestly” on last year, “mainly due to UK high street performance adversely impacting our Sanctuary and hair brands Charles Worthington and Fudge”, the firm added.
However, with tanning salons closed, bosses said the company’s St Tropez bronzer saw strong growth in online sales, suggesting customers are keen to keep up appearances.