RB boss blames low sickness levels for company's slow start to 2019

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 3 May 2019

Unusually low levels of illness resulted in health giant RB getting off to a slow start to 2019.

The business, based in Dansom Lane in east Hull, saw its like-for-like sales rise by just one per cent in the first three months of the year compared to 2018.

RB’s CEO admitted the company had got off to a sluggish start in 2019, but said full-year targets remained the same.

Rakesh Kapoor said: “As expected, Q1 saw a slow start to the year, especially in OTC (over the counter).

"Our health business unit (BU) was impacted by the unusually weak cold and flu season across US and several European markets and associated retailer inventory movements.

“While our seasonal products declined, Nurofen and Gaviscon delivered good growth from a combination of recent innovations and quality base products.

RB in Hull

“E-commerce backed by strong investment, continues to perform well with 10 per cent of net revenue coming from these faster growing channels.”

Sales at Reckitt-Benckiser hit £1.9bn in the first three months of the year.

Volumes however dropped four per cent, due to poor over the counter performance.

Read more: RB to unveil new £105m Hull research centre 'by end of June'

RB admitted it had “more to do to deliver sustained, top of market level financial performance,” but said it expected the second half of the year to be stronger.

Mr Kapoor said: “Our Hygiene Home portfolio continues to perform strongly (+ three per cent) from the executional focus of a dedicated business unit.

“Finish, Vanish, Harpic and Veja all performed well, driven by innovation-led growth. This more than offset some weakness in Air Wick and Lysol which faced tough comparators.

What RB's £105m new centre in Hull will look like

“Restoring outperformance in our Health BU remains our top priority as we target innovation-led growth, invest and outperform in e-channels, invest behind the equities of our brands, and build a more resilient business.”

Mr Kapoor said RB remained on track to hit its 2019 targets of between three and four per cent net revenue growth.

RB is currently putting the finishing touches on its new £105m research and development centre in Hull.

Read more: Indivior shares tumble as company faces $3bn fine over 28 fraud charges

The Centre for Scientific Excellence, at RB’s site, is the consumer health giant’s single biggest investment in its history.

Plans for the new facility first surfaced back in 2014, when then-Chancellor George Osborne said the centre would help the UK become “a world leader in science and innovation.”

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