Imperial Leather maker PZ Cussons has shaken off the rising cost of raw materials to report a rise in pre-tax profits for the past six months – and said it would hit performance targets for the year as a whole.

Hailing a “robust” first-half performance, the company said pre-tax profits were up 3.4% to £46.2m, driven by growth particularly in Australia, Indonesia and the Middle East.

Sales for the period to 30 November 2010 were down 2% in Europe to £146.4m, while profits took a hit from the Greek economic crisis. In the UK, the recently acquired St Tropez self-tan business had performed well, the company said.

“Continued renovation of our brand portfolio is ensuring we can continue to trade competitively and we are focused on further margin improvements in all territories,” the company said in a statement. “Against this backdrop and based on trading since the period ended, the outlook for the current year remains broadly in line with expectations.”

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