PZ CUSSONS, the owner of Imperial Leather soap and St Tropez self-tan, said yesterday that it suffered a drop in profits in the first half of the year as tough trading conditions in Africa and the devaluation of Nigeria’s currency, the naira, took its toll on sales.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter and the falling crude price has put pressure on the country’s currency, forcing the central bank to devalue the naira by eight per cent to halt a slide in its foreign reserves.
PZ Cussons said the weak naira, the Ebola outbreak and the disruption in the north of Nigeria dragged group operating profits down four per cent in the six months to 30 November.
It also warned that any further currency volatility and the presidential elections in February could affect its full-year results.
Nigeria is PZ Cussons’ biggest and oldest market and accounts for around 34 per cent of group operating profits. It sells everything from electrical goods and dairy products in the country through its joint venture businesses HPZ and Nutricima.
In the UK, PZ Cussons said trading in its washing and bathing division had been strong thanks to a relaunch of its Imperial Leather range.
PZ Cussons has been expanding in Australia, after buying baby food brand Rafferty’s Garden last year and yoghurt-maker Five:AM this summer. It said these new areas of growth would help to offset weaknesses in other markets.