Durex maker Reckitt has reported continued sales growth for its condom brand at the start of this year and expects its recovery to continue as more countries loosen lockdown restrictions.
The double-digit sales increase in the first quarter was led by strong growth in China when compared to a period of tough social distancing restrictions a year ago but most other markets were also ahead.
That included parts of the US, south east Asia and Europe, the consumer goods giant said.
Reckitt said it was seeing “some of the adverse effects of COVID begin to reverse” with the recovery for China expected over time “to be replicated in other markets where lockdowns have led to temporarily reduced demand”.
Overall sales across the group’s brands were up by a stronger than expected 4.1% with demand for disinfectants such as Dettol and Lysol remaining strong as consumers “remain vigilant to the spread of the virus”.
But it was a tough quarter for health products such as Strepsils, Nurofen and Mucinex, thanks to an “exceptionally weak” cough, cold and flu season, with an estimated 90% fewer cases than in the same quarter last year.
There was also a decline for baby formula products amid lower birth rates.
Stain removal brand Vanish returned to growth after low demand throughout last year attributed to restrictions on social activity.
Meanwhile air freshener Air Wick and dishwasher pod Finish did well, particularly in North America, benefiting from ongoing “stay at home” trends, Reckitt said.
The group’s sales figures compared with a period last year when it was already seeing a boost from stockpiling as the impact of the pandemic started to be felt.
Compared with the first quarter of 2019, revenues were 17% higher, Reckitt said.