Reckitt delivers strong growth

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The Independent Online

Reckitt Benckiser said strong growth from recently-acquired brands Nurofen and Strepsils helped it deliver a 15 per cent rise in full-year profits today.

The Anglo-Dutch household products firm achieved net income of £905 million in 2007, based on revenues growth of 7 per cent to £5.27 billion.

Reckitt said brands such as Vanish Oxi and Air Wick Freshmatic continued to perform well, while there was a 10 per cent like-for-like sales improvement at the Boots healthcare business acquired for £1.93 billion in 2006. The company said this reflected "substantial growth" from Strepsils, Nurofen and Clearasil.

Reckitt also owns brands such as Lemsip, Disprin and Gavescon as well as household products Cillit Bang, Dettol detergent and Calgon water softener. It recently completed the acquisition of cough mixture firm Adams for £1.1 billion.

Chief executive Bart Becht described 2007 as a "great year", adding that in 2008 he forecast revenues growth of between 6 per cent and 7 per cent and a net income rise of 10 per cent.

The first half of the year will see a number of product launches, including a new version of Cillit Bang to remove stains from surfaces in areas such as the garage and kitchen.

It will also complete the re-launch of its Clearasil Base range and introduce Dettol hand sanitiser, incorporating a formulation used in hospitals.

The growth forecasts for 2008 came despite a slight slowdown in the final three months of 2007, with fourth quarter revenues up by 6 per cent to £1.37 billion and net income flat at £292 million following a one-off tax impact.

In Europe, which generates 54 per cent of the company's sales, revenues were 7 per cent higher at £2.81 billion in 2007. The performance featured growth across all categories, including fabric care and surface care, while the former Boots brands contributed after benefiting from increased marketing.

Reckitt offered shareholders a final dividend of 30p a share, an increase of 20 per cent on a year earlier.

The company, which can trace its origins to 1814, was formed by a 1999 merger between Reckitt and Dutch business Benckiser. Headquartered in Slough, Berkshire, it now has operations in 60 countries and employs around 22,000 staff worldwide.

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