PZ Cussons Plc’s sales rose 4.1% to $709.2 million for the six months ended Nov. 30, 2013. Operating profit increased 6% with performance in Africa and Europe offsetting the impact of a weakening in Asian countries. Excluding the exchange rate impact, group revenue and operating profit were 6% and 8% higher, the company said.
In Africa, overall, the positive growth momentum seen in the second half of last year has continued into the period with revenue growth of 6% being achieved across the personal care, home care and electrical portfolios, the company said. New product launches across the personal care and home care portfolios have been important to attract consumers in a continuingly competitive trading environment. Cussons said it has extended its market leadership in bar soap with a relaunch of its Premier and Imperial Leather brands including additional new variants. Further new product launches have taken place under the Zip and Elephant detergent brands, as well as the Robb Medicaments brand.
In the UK, the washing and bathing division performance has been “robust” with new product launches key to attracting consumers and helping to differentiate brands in a competitive trading environment, noted Cussons. Specifically, the company said the relaunch of the premium Imperial Leather Foamburst shower range with new imagery and fragrances was a highlight. During the period, Carex has extended its market leadership in the antibacterial hand wash segment with the new kids variants performing particularly well. Further new product launches have also taken place across the Original Source and Cussons Mum & Me brands, with the latter being extended with a Little Explorers range for young children.
According to Cussons, all four brands in the Beauty division “have seen good progress.” St Tropez, in particular, has benefited from the appointment of Kate Moss as brand ambassador at the start of the summer and has seen distribution expand further in overseas markets such as the US, Canada and Germany.
And while Sanctuary has also performed well with Darcey Bussell continuing in the role of brand ambassador, PZ Cussons will close its iconic Covent Garden spa at the end of May. The firm will also shutter three small boutique spas in Richmond, Cambridge and Bristol, UK.
The company added a number of new products to the Fudge hair care brand and Charles Worthington performed well following its relaunch last year.
Elsewhere in Europe, performance in Poland has been strong in both home care and in personal care under the portfolio of Luksja, Original Source and Carex, Cussons said. Merger control clearance for the sale of the home care brands is in its final review stage and a decision as to whether clearance will be granted is expected very shortly, noted the firm.
“The Group has delivered a good result for the half year with growth in both revenue and profitability,” said Richard Harvey, chairman. “Our balance sheet remains strong and we have the appetite to pursue further investment opportunities which fit our strategic aims.”