Manchester-based consumer products company PZ Cussons said on Tuesday it has experienced “unprecedented growth” in demand for hand wash and hand sanitiser products as it reported that revenue from continuing operations rose 10.2% to £312.9 million in the six months ended November 30, 2020.
Adjusted pre-tax profit rose 16% to £34.9 million.
Cussons said revenue from its “Focus Brands” grew 21.9% driven by Carex, Morning Fresh, Cussons Baby and St Tropez.
Interim dividend was maintained in line with last year at 2.67p per share.
In its outlook, Cussons said: “We saw renewed momentum in our business in the first half of our financial year, with delivery of top and bottom line growth allowing for increased investment in both marketing and organisational capabilities.
“Initial steps have been taken to turn around the business but these are only the start of a multi-year programme to return to sustainable profit growth.
“In the second half we expect continued economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19, the risk of weaker consumer confidence combined with already evident upward cost pressure.
“Despite these external headwinds we plan to continue to increase investment in our brands.
“Assuming no material change to anticipated COVID restrictions or resulting consumer behaviour, we expect to perform in line with the current range of market expectations for this financial year.”
Cussons chair Caroline Silver said: “The organisation has been stabilised in the last twelve months with the arrival of Jonathan Myers as CEO and his new management team.
“Our fast start to this financial year was maintained with the group delivering strong growth in revenue and adjusted profit across all regions, notwithstanding increased investment in marketing and organisational capabilities.
“In the second half of this year, with our recent strategy review moving into execution, we expect further progression in brand building, the continued turnaround of key brands and the implementation of our simplification project in Nigeria.
“The external environment continues to remain very challenging and volatile but we remain focused on developing our strategic plans that will benefit all stakeholders in the longer term.
“The board has declared an interim dividend of 2.67p in line with our last financial year 2020. We are pleased with progress to date and confident in our future plans but remain cautious given the external environment.”
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “The pandemic has boosted demand for hygiene products and cultural memory of the crisis means habits such as stringent and regular handwashing are likely to remain legacies of COVID …
“What Myers is attempting isn’t rocket science. He’s simply trying to clean up the mess left by several predecessors by focusing investment on key brands.”
CEO Myers said: “Our focus in the first half of this year has been to deliver a fast start for the business, with emphasis on profitable revenue growth as well as maintaining our strong balance sheet discipline.
“We saw this as essential to reset both in terms of organisational pace and agility to adapt to changing consumer and shopper habits.
“In parallel, we completed our review of the strategy to become a brand-led and consumer-focused organisation, delivering sustainable profitable growth with hygiene, baby and beauty at our core.”