Reckitt Benckiser in restructure as it fights to rally from sales hit and hack

Joanna Bourke
Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser is behind brands such Dettol and Nurofen: REUTERS

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser on Wednesday unveiled plans to split into two as the Durex-to-Dettol maker looks to bounce back from falling sales and a devastating cyber attack.

The FTSE 100 manufacturer behind the Gaviscon and Strepsils brands, said output at a number of factories has been interrupted since the June NotPetya hack, leading to lost sales.

Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor, paid £14.6 million last year, said the company is at the tail end of dealing with the attack, but admitted it “has taken more time than we expected”.

He also warned of a “continuing challenging market environment” as he revealed comparable sales in the third quarter fell 1% to £3.2 billion.

Including favourable currency movements and the firm’s June $17.9 billion (£13.5 billion) purchase of baby formula firm Mead Johnson, revenues jumped 30%.

The company expects sales to be flat in the full year, down from a previous forecast of 2% growth (stripping out the Mead deal).

Kapoor said the firm has “not done justice in terms of focus and performance” for some products.

Reckitt Benckiser will split into two divisions, one focussed on health and the other on hygiene and home products.

Kapoor will lead the former and Rob de Groot, North America and Europe head, will be at the helm of the latter.

James Edwardes Jones, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, called the quarter “poor”, and said of the reorganisation: “This is a potentially important development, but seems to us a secondary issue right now... We see no reason to alter our Underperform rating.”

The shares fell before recovering and rising 10p to 7045p.

Kapoor is looking to boost sales and overhaul the business after a string of problems.

Reckitt Benckiser has been hurt by a scandal in South Korea over the sale of a toxic product linked to almost 100 deaths, and has seen its latest Scholl footwear innovation fail to take off.

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