‘Intimate occasions’ down during pandemic


Sales of Durex condoms have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Reckitt Benckiser CEO Laxman Narasimhan told CNBC on Thursday. 

“The number of intimate occasions is down in a few countries because, if you think of it, the level of socialization is low, and so it has had an impact on Durex,” Narasimhan said on “Squawk on the Street.” 

Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Durex and other consumer products such as Lysol and cold medication Mucinex, has seen an overall increase in the online sales of its products as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In the first quarter, e-commerce revenues grew more than 50% across its portfolio, Narasimhan said. 

“If you think of Durex and how it plays in the e-commerce space, it is absolutely set up for it,” he said. “We have operations in 53 countries. Durex had a big quarter online, and we continue to see great progress in that direction as people look for privacy as well in this area.” 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved two of Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol products as effective in killing the coronavirus on surfaces. It marked the first time the agency has confirmed a surface disinfectant does kill the virus after conducting tests and data reviews.

Sales of Lysol have been elevated since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, growing more than 50% year over year in the first quarter, Narasimhan said. Other products, such as those within the disinfectant brand Dettol, also have seen a boost in sales, he said. 

“There’s clearly a big hygiene sensitivity,” Narasimhan said, which has helped expand the market for Lysol and other products and increase how frequently people buy them. “We don’t expect that to stick for a long period of time, but we do expect it to be at higher levels.” 

He said Reckitt Benckiser has responded by ramping up production capacity, referencing changes to manufacturing at a factory outside Wuhan, China. “If you look at the amount of sanitizer we’re making, we’re making 20 times the amount of sanitizer in July as we did last year. It just gives you the sense of the demand that there is.”

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