IMPERIAL Leather soap maker PZ Cussons yesterday said it was cleaning up in the swine flu epidemic, reporting a 16 per cent jump in annual pre-tax profits.<br /><br />The group yesterday reported its Carex range of waterless antibacterial hand gels were “performing particularly well” in “a climate where there is additional consumer focus on hand hygiene”. <br /><br />The group yesterday said Carex sales were surging by up to 200 per cent.<br /><br />In the UK, like-for-like sales, (excluding The Sanctuary business which it bought for £75m in 2008), rose 7.5 per cent versus the prior year, boosting group profits to £88.8m. Analysts had been expecting profits of £84-£87m. Total group sales rose 27 per cent to £838.1m. The group said its Sanctuary bathing products range and female-only spa was still performing well, despite the recession.<br /><br />Finance director Brandon Leigh yesterday said the group’s beauty products were stealing market share as people traded down to cheaper pampering treats. The dividend is up 12 per cent to 5.27p for the year.