New products help soap maker clean up

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The Independent Online

The owner of the soap brands Imperial Leather and Carex has reported a 13 per cent rise in European profits after new products boosted trading. PZ Cussons said "excellent brand innovation" helped it to offset high levels of promotional activity and an uncertain consumer outlook.

The company, which also owns Original Source and the haircare brand Charles Worthington, posted operating profits of £46.2m in Europe for the year to 31 May, up from £40.9m, even though revenues fell 2.5 per cent to £280.8m.

Across the group, which also has a strong presence in Asia, profits rose by more than City expectations to £101.8m, a gain of nearly 15 per cent. Despite the improvement, the shares fell 4 per cent to 344.75p as investors reacted to cautious outlook comments from the company. The shares have risen by about 60 per cent in the past 12 months.