Stain remover demand rises as distancing shrinks

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Sales of the clothing stain remover Vanish have risen as people pay more attention to their appearance post lockdown, its manufacturer says.

Reckitt Benckiser said the demand was directly linked to the reduction in social restrictions around the world "as market conditions normalise".

Sales of its personal care products like hair removal cream Veet also grew strongly in the first half of 2021.

But demand for disinfectants such Dettol and Lysol began to slow.

It follows surging demand for bleaches and cleaners earlier on in the pandemic, although Reckitt said sales remained far higher than pre-Covid levels.

At this point in 2019 Dettol and Lysol made up 16% of Reckitt's revenue. They now account for a quarter of revenue.

"We are seeing different consumer behaviours depending on vaccine rollout rates, government advice and new waves," the firm said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, both brands [Dettol and Lysol] are more relevant with consumers than pre-pandemic and are therefore structurally better positioned to grow into new places and new spaces in the future."

Overall, like for like revenue fell at the consumer goods company in the first six months of the year by 4.5% to £6.6bn. Operating profit fell 16% to £1.4bn.

Reckitt also became the latest company to warn on inflation, which has accelerated in the second quarter of 2021 as economies have reopened and pushed up the cost of raw materials.

The company's comments mirrored those of Dove soap maker Unilever, which last week cut its outlook citing higher raw material costs on everything from crude to palm and soybean oil.

Reckitt boss Laxman Narasimhan said it "will take time to offset this headwind with productivity and pricing actions being implemented in the back half of the year and early next year".

Reckitt Benckiser's share price tumbled by 8.52% in morning trading in London amid fears over the impact of inflation and the firm's slowing sales growth.

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