In November 2009 the range was the highest-profile victim of Unilever's strategy to reduce its number of SKUs by 40%. Prior to being withdrawn, sales of the brand had fallen 38.8% year-on-year to £7m [Nielsen 52w/e 3 October 2009].
The company said the time was now right for the range to return, particularly as the washing-up liquid market had grown 5% year-on-year to £196m [Kantar 52w/e 23 January 2011].
Rolling out this month, the new line-up comprises four variants: Apple Fizz, Orange Crush, Pink Blush and Lemon Burst, and will retail at £1 for a 500ml bottle. The range has a new anti-bacterial formula and has been given a colourful bottle design that features fruit imagery.
The new line-up will be produced and sold under licence by McBride, which manufactures own-label household and personal care products. "The new agreement will capitalise on McBride's manufacturing expertise and logistics service while maximising production and cost efficiencies and enabling Persil washing-up liquid production to remain in the UK," said Julie McCleave, Unilever commercial manager for licensing. "By partnering the heritage and cleaning credentials of Persil with McBride's longstanding category experience, we are confident now is the time for Persil to re-enter washing-up liquid.
"We look forward to replicating the success that Persil has achieved in laundry."
Unilever refused to reveal sales targets for the range, but McCleave said there was a significant gap in the market for a credible brand to grow the washing-up liquid category further and offer consumers an alternative product.
The range faces stiff competition from market leader Fairy, which sells at 98p for 450ml. The brand dominates the category and has grown sales 12.7% to £129.9m [Nielsen 52w/e 25 December 2010].