Durex-to-Dettol firm Reckitt Benckiser reports flat annual sales
Household goods giant Reckitt Benckiser has reported flat annual sales as a stronger fourth quarter failed to fully counter a year that featured tough market conditions and significant disruptions following a cyber attack last summer.
The company said net revenue came in at £11.5bn for the year to December 31, with sales flat on a like-for-like basis when excluding exchange rate effects, and the impact of recent acquisitions, disposals and discontinued operations.
Total reported revenue growth was 21pc.
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Like-for-like sales at its North American business saw no growth, while its operations in Europe, Russia and surrounding states, Israel, Australia and New Zealand together dropped 3pc.
Operations in regions including North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia grew 3pc.
The Durex-to-Dettol firm warned on sales last year after being hit by a cyber attack last June, which significantly disrupted its manufacturing and orders systems across a raft of markets, including the UK.
It has also been undergoing an overhaul to organise the firm into two divisions - its consumer health business, including recently acquired US infant formula company Mead Johnson, and a home and hygiene arm.
But a strong final quarter seems to have lifted spirits at the consumer goods giant, which is forecasting continued growth over 2018.
Commenting on the results, chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said: "2017 was a significant year in RB's (Reckitt Benckiser's) journey to become a global leader in consumer health.
"We returned to growth after a solid finish to the year, our acquisition of MJN (Mead Johnson Nutrition) is firmly on track and the creation of two business units - RB Health and RB Hygiene Home - will drive long-term growth."
He said the company is now targeting total revenue growth of 13pc to 14pc for 2018, and a 2pc to 3pc rise in like-for-like sales.
"Whilst 2018 will see some specific factors impacting margin, we reiterate our medium-term target of moderate operating margin expansion," Mr Kapoor said.
Operating profits came in at £2.74bn, up 21pc compared with a year earlier and up 14pc when stripped of currency effects.