Reckitt Benckiser has credited new products including Dettol No Touch soap and the wasabi-infused Strepsils Warm for robust sales growth in the past three months.

Like-for-like sales were up 5% in the first quarter of the year, the company said, with developing markets providing the main engine of growth.

On a constant currency basis, total sales for the period were up 15% to £2.28bn, buoyed by the acquisition of Durex maker SLL last year.

Chief executive Bart Bech (pictured) said integration of the new business was on track to deliver the projected cost savings. He said the results represented “a strong start” to the year.

The performance is a timely boost to the company after a turbulent 10 days.

Last week the company’s share price tumbled following the announcement by the highly regarded Becht that he would retire later this year. He will be replaced at the helm by Rakesh Kapoor on 1 September.

And this week the NHS began legal proceedings against Reckitt to recoup tens of millions of pounds from the company amid allegations of anti-competitive practices relating to its Gaviscon heartburn medicine.

Reckitt has vowed to “vigorously defend” itself against the £89m claim, which came after the Office of Fair Trading confirmed a £10.2m fine it had previously imposed would remain in place.

Read more
Becht steps down as Reckitt Benckiser chief (14 April 2011)
OFT fines Reckitt £10m for Gaviscon abuse (15 October 2010)