PZ Cussons hits its forecasts

SOAP and shampoo maker PZ Cussons yesterday met forecasts with a seven per cent rise in annual profit as tough trading conditions and increased raw material costs were mitigated by higher selling prices.

The maker of Imperial Leather soaps and Carex anti-bacterial hand washes said it made an underlying pre-tax profit of £108.9m in the year to 31 May.

“The positive growth rates seen in the second half in a number of our key businesses have continued into the new financial year, giving cause for confidence as we look ahead,” chairman Richard Harvey said.

The group, which operates in Africa, Asia and Europe, said revenue increased 6.4 per cent to £820.7m.

In Africa sales rose to £339.1m from £325.2m. Europe revenues rose to £305.5m from £280.8m, helped by product launches in Britain.

The Carex and Original Source ranges have been extended, PZ Cussons said.

In Asia revenues rose six per cent to £176.1m, with strength in Indonesia offsetting a subdued performance in Australia, where consumers are coming under pressure.

PZ Cussons ended the year with net funds of £51.8m and is paying a total dividend of 6.61p, up 12 per cent.

The firm said initiatives were underway to counter the impact of higher raw material prices and, with the spending power of consumers under increasing pressure in a number of its markets, new product and pricing strategies were being tailored accordingly.

Shares in PZ Cussons have increased by 15 per cent over the last three months. They closed up 0.1 per cent at 377.3p yesterday.