Rentokil hand sanitiser stocks to last a ‘few months’ as Chinese factories close

The world’s biggest rat catcher Rentokil has said it has enough hand sanitiser to meet “strong” demand sparked by the coronavirus, but that stocks of its products may only last for the next few months.

The business said that it is closely monitoring the situation, as it hopes that Chinese factories that supply it can get up and running again before the supplies run out.

“Customer inquiries for hand-washing and hand-sanitising services are strong,” Rentokil said in a statement to investors on Thursday, addressing the outbreak.

Rentokil Initial
Rentokil Initial

It added: “The majority of products sourced from suppliers in China are covered by existing stocks for the next few months.”

The business said that the main impact of coronavirus had been on its operations in China.

Many Chinese factories are still shut, after they were initially meant to close for only 10 days in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

At least 2,800 people are thought to have died in the global spread of the disease, mostly in China.

It has also hit global markets, pushing down the FTSE 100 by 6.7% since the beginning of the week.

Rentokil said that adjusted profit before tax rose 10.7% to £340.9 million on revenue of £2.7 billion, which grew 9.8%.

“The company performed strongly in 2019 with a combination of above-target organic growth and disciplined execution of mergers and acquisitions,” said chief executive Andy Ransom.

Analysts said that the company had performed in line with expectations, as shares rose 2.2% to 506.8p.