- Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser booked a 12% rise in first-half profit and said it was tracking ahead of its expectations for the full year, amid a surge in demand for cleaning products during the Covid-19 crisis.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through June increased to £1.44bn, up from £1.26bn on-year, as revenue rose 11% to £6.91bn.

Adjusted operating profit climbed 15% to £1.70bn.

Reckitt Benckiser, which is behind brands including Lysol cleaners and Nurofen pain killers, held its interim dividend steady at 73p per share, which it said was in line with guidance given in February.

The company said its performance for 2020 was now expected to be better than hoped back in April, although the outlook for the balance of the year remained uncertain.

In the first half, revenue in its hygiene division jumped 14%. In the health division, it rose 8.8%.

'The world has changed beyond recognition in 2020,' chief executive Laxman Narasimhan said.

'Covid-19 is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future and, as a society, we are embedding new hygiene practices to protect our way of life.'

'Our hygiene and base health businesses have both performed well, with strong volume growth in challenging circumstances.'

'At the same time, our infant and child nutrition business has delivered important operational and executional improvements, although focus remains on delivering revenue growth through innovation and navigating headwinds such as Hong Kong.'

'While uncertainties remain for the second-half of the year, on both the public health and economic fronts, we have increased confidence in the successful delivery of our medium term goals.'

Story provided by