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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Brian McGleenon

Brits ditching hand sanitiser for fake tan as Covid threat recedes, says PZ Cussons

The PZ Cussons brand, Carex soap, saw a surge in demand during the pandemic’s height

(Picture: PZ Cussons)

Brits have stopped stockpiling soap and are buying fake tan instead as the threat of Covid-19 eases, according to PZ Cussons.

The consumer goods giant, which owns brands like Carex soap and St Tropez fake tan, saw sales of beauty products rise 21% after the relaxation of lockdown constraints.

But the company reported an overall decline in revenue and profit over the last six months as demand for cleaning and sanitizing products declined from a peak seen at the height of the pandemic.

Revenue fell by 9.3% to £283.7 million in the first half of the year to November.

Sales have returned to growth in recent weeks and PZ Cussons said profits of £64 million to £68 million for its full financial year are still within reach, in-line with City forecasts.

Freight and raw material costs are rising and CEO Jonathan Myers said “cost pressures” are expected to continue into next year, but he said the company was focused on protecting its profit margins.

Gross margins actually improved by 40 basis points in the half-year as the company passed on rising costs to consumers. PZ Cussons also owns brands like Joy toilet roll and Morning Fresh.

Myers said: "Our focus is on both protecting our margins but also continuing to invest in the business, to secure future growth and build the capabilities we need to deliver against our strategy.”

The company has focused on increasing revenue growth in Africa and their beauty product range in the US to help navigate through strong headwinds from "high levels of unexpected inflation".

Clive Black at Shore Capital said the company “still has relatively new leadership” but was steadying the business.

Shares increased 3.9%, up 7.4p to 197p.

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