Rats and moths give Rentokil a busy summer

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The Independent Online

A plague of rats unleashed by the summer floods and downpours saw the pest control giant Rentokil Initial experience its busiest month for a decade.

The group said yesterday its UK pest control division faced a surge in demand in July after the extreme wet weather.

Rats were forced above ground by floodwater, but are also thought to have been attracted by mountains of uncollected rubbish left on the streets.

Rentokil's pest control unit was further in demand because of a rise in moth infestations, with inquiries up by a quarter year-on-year during the summer.

Rentokil, which operates across a range of businesses including washroom services and parcel delivery, said demand for pest control globally was rising.

The group, which operates across 40 countries, brought in £8.8m in new business to its worldwide pest control division in the three months to the end of June alone.

But Rentokil posted a 27 per cent fall in profits since the start of the year. The group reported pre-tax profits of £65.3m for the six months to 30 June, against £89.4m last year.

The company, which has been undergoing a sweeping restructure over the past two years, said it was confident that performance would pick up in the second half of the year, helping the group to return to profits growth in 2008.

Rentokil's overhaul has seen it offload £1.1bn of surplus businesses, as it sought to stem losses and reinvigorate operations. Yesterday's results showed signs that the reorganisation was beginning to bear fruit, with the group's domestic arm seeing revenue in June reach its highest level since October 2005, up 3.9 per cent, although this was not enough to offset weaker earlier performance, leaving interim revenues down 5.4 per cent.