Procter & Gamble boss Irwin Lee has hailed his company's new Pampers range as "a quantum leap" in fmcg innovation and has pledged to focus NPD on household and personal care products this year.

In a rare interview, P&G's UK and Ireland chief said the company would bring its "innovation flair" to the household and personal care categories, and promised high-profile launches of the same scale as Ariel Excel Gel.

The first of these is Pampers New Baby and Active Fit nappies, which hit shelves today and are the "thinnest yet driest nappies in the world", according to Lee. The nappies are 14% lighter and 20% less bulky than standard nappies.

"We are stepping up our game in innovation in 2010 and amplifying what worked in 2009," said Lee.

Following P&G's acquisition of Ambi Pur from Sara Lee in December, Lee promised new activity on aircare.

"We need innovation in aircare and are in the process of getting regulatory purchase of Ambi Pur. Sales are slipping a bit as a consequence of transition, but we look forward to rejuvenating the brand."

He also pledged more NPD to turn around the fabric conditioner category, which slumped 9% by volume in 2009 [Nielsen].

"If we are to help the economy recover, we have to do what we are good at: innovation. Our portfolio was mainly mainstream mid-priced and we need to extend up and down price levels to touch more consumers' lives."

P&G's Pringles brand is also having a tough time with sales down 0.1% to £141.1m [Nielsen 52w/e 17 April 2010] and Lee said he expected it to benefit from a back-to-basics strategy.

"Last year we consolidated the Pringles range and started phasing out Minis and Select to focus on the core product the tube."

There were opportunities to work with retailers by manufacturing tailored Pringles flavours for different retailers, he added.

"There are opportunities for partnership with the trade. We can say: 'Here are our capabilities we can do special stuff for you'."