Bit of a blow for Reckitt Benckiser

FEWER cases of colds and flu hit sales of Reckitt Benckiser in Europe and North America in the first half of the year, the com–pany revealed yesterday.

The cleaning products and drugs giant, also behind Durex condoms and Dettol, saw revenues in the transatlantic region drop 1 per cent to £2.3 billion in the six months to 30 June as weak consumer sentiment also hit performance. A strong
period for heartburn relief Gaviscon was offset by weak sales of decongestant Mucinex, Strepsils lozenges and certain products within the Nurofen range.

Reckitt reported a 1 per cent overall increase in group revenues to £4.7bn and a 2 per cent rise in underlying operating profits to £1.1bn thanks to a strong performance in emerging markets, driven by sales of Durex, Dettol and cleaning brands Finish and Harpic.

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Reckitt said market conditions were particularly weak in southern Europe, which is being impacted by the eurozone crisis and weak economic growth.

The company had previously merged the European and North American divisions to reflect the slowdown in consumer spending in the regions.

The shares closed down 6p at 3,536p.