RECKITT Benckiser warned yesterday that trading in Europe and the US remained tough due to weak consumer demand and fierce competition, after posting weaker than expected half-year sales in the region.
The household and toiletries giant, which owns brands such as Nurofen and Vanish fabric cleaners, said like-for-like sales in its Europe and North American region fell one per cent to £2.26bn.
This was offset by growth in its two emerging market divisions, which helped to lift total sales by one per cent, to £4.7bn for the six months to 30 June as like-for-like sales increased four per cent.
Rakesh Kapoor, who took over as chief executive last September after Bart Becht’s decision to retire, said southern Europe “was significantly worse” than other markets and conceded he saw no prospects of recovery in the near-term.
But Kapoor insisted he was confident on full-year prospects and said revenue growth across the group was well-ahead of the market.”
In February, he announced plans to sell the group’s private label business to focus on its fastest-growing health and hygiene brands such as Dettol, Strepsils and Durex.
It plans to move quicker into the major emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Operating profit rose two per cent to £1.12bn. Reckitt’s pharmaceuticals unit, which earns the vast majority of profits from its Suboxone heroin treatment, reported a two per cent in profit and six per cent gain in revenue.