Unrest in Nigerian market leaves Cussons off the pace

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Britons' growing appetite for fake tan and glossy hair was not quite enough to offset chaos in Nigeria and falling sales in Australia for the soap group PZ Cussons.

The maker of Imperial Leather, which warned on profits last month, said high raw materials costs, difficult trading conditions in Australia's homecare sector and social and economic tensions in the key Nigerian market hit profits despite robust trade in the UK.

For the year to June, pre-tax profits after exceptional items fell 55.1 per cent to £48.5m, from £108.1m last year. Pre-tax profits before exceptional items dropped 15.2 per cent to £92.3m. But total revenue was up 4.7 per cent to £858.9m from £820.7m last year.

The finance director, Brandon Lee, said: "Nigeria is our largest market and the situation there remains fragile but the UK has been strong and we have addressed issues in the Australian market".