The one-minute expert: Reckitt & Colman

Reckitt & Colman, the taste of old England, Colman's English mustard, and all that. Right?

Wrong. The mustard business, along with its other foods businesses, was sold off to Unilever more than a year ago. It also sold off that other quintessentially English brand, Robinson's fruit squashes, to Bass. In all, it raised pounds 250m.

What was wrong with mustard?

Who knows. Perhaps directors became jaded with the taste at boardroom lunches.

So where to now?

Wants to go global. Tired of fuddy-duddy food brands. Intends to become "the world's leading household products company". The proceeds went on a pounds 1bn purchase of US household products group L&F. However, for the traditionalists among you, it still retains the likes of Brasso, and Lemsip for coughs and colds. And other well-known brands including Mr Sheen, Harpic, Dettol and Disprin.

So it's taking on the likes of Procter & Gamble and Unilever then?

Er, not quite. Chief executive Vernon Sankey is keen to emphasise the distinction that it aims to become Number One in household cleaning products alone. Nor, he emphasises, is the group all that far away from its goal. It has - don't titter - half the American market for toilet cleaners, 45 per cent of the Australasian insecticide market, and 40 per cent of the Brazilian market for surface cleaners. "We are," says Mr Sankey, "closer than you think." And to lend itself credence, it has recruited Philip Darnton from Unilever, where he was head of global strategy for laundry goods (sic), to become group director, global marketing. Oh yes, and it wants to be number one in over-the- counter medicines, in the regions where it is strong at present.

Where's that?

The UK and the British Commonwealth.

So what's happening?

Interim results on Thursday. The City reckons the group can produce pre- tax profits of around pounds 165m to pounds 170m, up from pounds 149m at the interim stage a year ago. However, analysts are hoping there won't be any unpleasant surprises as there were at the time of the last preliminary figures in March. Then, the group had to declare it had been caught out by the amalgamation of different stock systems at L&F, leading to a pounds 60m charge. There is also a sense of deja vu among long-standing investors in the business - of somehow having been here before.

Why so?

In 1990, Reckitt bought Boyle-Midway of the US for $1.25bn - just under the $1.55bn it paid for L&F. Sales of B-M were roughly similar to L&F; as were most of the other financial details. Reckitt & Colman said at the time it bought B-M, it was because of the complementary nature of the products. Ditto, L&F. However, once it had bought the company, it found it had bought a group with poor product development, and badly directed marketing support. Likewise, L&F was a peripheral part of a large conglomerate. Hopefully, they have learnt their lesson this time around.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing