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Revenues have fallen back at hygiene and personal care group PZ Cussons as demand for its Carex hand sanitiser brand softened from heights experienced during earlier stages of the pandemic.

Despite a 12% fall in its hygiene division over the six months to 30 November, the group said Carex had gained significant market share in the now-larger UK hand hygience category. The division grew by 6% in the first half when excluding the performance of Carex.

Group revenues declined 9.3% to £283.7m in the half as a result of the Carex declines and the disposal of non-core assets such as the Five:AM yoghurt business in Australia as PZ Cussons streamlines its portfolio.

CEO Jonathan Myers warned of accelerating cost pressures but stuck to the full-year profit guidance for the group.

“Commodity and freight costs show no sign of abating in the near term and we continue to anticipate cost pressures into FY23,” he said. “Our focus is on both protecting our margins but also continuing to invest in the business, to secure future growth and build the capabilities we need to deliver against our strategy.”

First-half pre-tax profits from continuing operations increased 8.3% to £35.1m as the group protected its margins and increased prices.

The group returned to revenue growth in the second quarter of the half thanks to a strong performance for its baby and beauty categories.

In Europe, the Original Source brand returned to growth and gained share following the introduction of the ‘I’m Plant Based’ range and a boost for the core portfolio after a new ad campaign and improvements to product formulation.

Imperial Leather, by contrast, posted revenue declines as it faced increased competition in the shower segment.

Sanctuary Spa revenue grew strongly and momentum at St.Tropez continued, with revenue growth in both the US and UK.

Myers added: “Revenue from ‘Must Win Brands’, excluding Carex, grew +10% and the overall business showed strong underlying momentum when comparing the results to the equivalent period two years ago.

Continued price/mix improvements helped strengthen gross margin in the first half of the year, allowing us to increase media and consumer investment behind our brands and maintain our operating margin.

“These results demonstrate our ability to use the strength of our brands to protect margins in the face of cost headwinds.”

Shares in the group surged 4.4% higher to 198p on the back of the bullish statement.

Morning update

Tate & Lyle has appointed Dawn Allen as chief financial officer, starting on 16 May.

Allen joins from Mars where she has been global CFO & VP of global transformation since 2020.

Prior to that, during a 25-year career at Mars, she has held a number of senior financial roles in Europe and the US, including global divisional CFO, food, drinks and multisales and regional CFO of Wrigley Americas.

Tate & Lyle CEO Nick Hampton said: “With over two decades of experience in the global food industry and a proven track record of financial leadership, Dawn is an outstanding addition to our executive team.

“I very much look forward to working with her and continuing to drive our growth agenda as Tate & Lyle enters a new chapter as a focused global food and beverage solutions business.”

Chairman Gerry Murphy added: “Dawn’s extensive financial, commercial and international experience will be of great value to Tate & Lyle and she is a very welcome addition to our board.”

The FTSE 100 climbed 0.6% to 7,612.68pts in the early going.

Delivery Hero, DS Smith, Just Eat Takeaway and WH Smith were among the early risers, up 3.2% to €68.46, 3.4% to 377.4p, 2.9% to 3,720p and 2.5% to 1,674p respectively.

Losers so far included McColl’s Retail Group, down 0.5% to 6.9p, Imperial Brands, down 0.4% to 1,769p, and Hotel Chocolat Group, down 1.1% to 455.1p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 fell away as the day wore on and early gains turned to a 0.1% fall to 7,567.07pts.

Ocado took a whalloping yesterday as it revealed widening losses for the year. The group’s shares sank 8.4% to 1,289.1p, taking the stock down more than 17% so far in 2022 and more than 50% over the past year.

Other fallers included Hellofresh, down 5.4% to €54.48, THG was down another 2.7% to 130p and McColl’s Retail Group fell 2.2% to 7p.

Risers included SSP Group, up 3.5% to 282.7p, Just Eat Takeaway, up 1.8% to 3,617p after announcing it was delisting its shares from the Nasdaq exchange, and B&M European Value Retail, up 1.6% to 550.6p