Sex toys and new condoms boost Durex

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The Independent Online

The launch of sex toys and new types of condoms has lifted sales growth at Durex to a record 10 per cent. And SSL, which owns the Durex brand, promised further growth yesterday as it launched a new range of sex aids for men that will be available in Tesco and Boots.

A range of vibrators and lubricants sold under the Durex Play brand accounted for half of the sales growth reported yesterday. Durex revenues were £77.1m in the six months to 30 September.

The decision by Boots to stock a new £5.99 vibrating ring for men represents a significant U-turn for the high street chain. At the start of this year it backed out of talks to launch the Durex Play range of vibrators, for fear of a conservative backlash. The range was eventually launched by Superdrug.

Gary Watts, the chief executive of SSL, said he had experienced no problem in getting Boots and others to stock the vibrating ring. "Products like these are gradually getting market acceptance, as we always thought they would," he said. "It was never going to be a matter of foisting them on the public, but rather having them launched and letting them find their place."

Tesco insisted yesterday the disposable rings - which last 20 minutes and have a small vibrating pad to enhance the pleasure of women during sex - were not sex toys but part of the health and family planning range.

SSL claimed that Durex's global market share had risen to 30 per cent after strong growth in the US and Eastern Europe, and thanks to the launch of innovative condoms, such as Pleasuremax, which is ribbed, and Tingle, which is coated with a lubricant that gives a tingling sensation.

SSL, which owns the Scholl footwear and footcare brands, reported interim profits of £17.3m, up from £10.5m in the half-year to 30 September 2004.