SSL's profits are boosted by European condom sales

Strong sales of Durex condoms and Scholl footcare products helped SSL International to deliver a 33 per cent rise in full-year pre-tax profits, as it revealed massive growth plans for Russia and surrounding countries through the acquisition of a condom brand and distributor.

SSL said rising demand for its condoms in the UK and eastern Europe drove Durex sales up by 7.3 per cent to £266.9m for the 12 months to 31 March. It also revealed that the Durex Play range – which includes personal lubricants and vibrators – had contributed "handsomely" to sales, which rose by 17.7 per cent to £43.3m. Garry Watts, the chief executive, said: "We believe we are well placed to continue to exploit opportunities in all our markets."

Sales of Scholl footcare and Scholl footwear products rose by 11.4 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively during the recession. For the year to 31 March, SSL delivered pre-tax profits, before one-off charges, up by 33 per cent to £76.5m, and total sales up by 20 per cent to £642.4m.

SSL said it would acquire a controlling stake in BLBV, the owner of Russia's leading condom brand, Contex, by 1 June, which would have added operating profits of £16m to SSL if the deal had taken place in its last financial year.

BLBV is also the company behind the distributors of condoms and other medical products in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Baltic states and Romania.

SSL International increased its final dividend by 20.8 per cent to 6.4p.

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