RB sales +11.8% in 2020; Biofreeze in, Scholl out

RB recorded its highest-ever sales increase in 2020, with net revenue up 11.8% on a like-for-like basis to £14bn (US$20bn). Health grew by 12.1% to £4.9bn (US$6.9bn), while Hygiene sales had an even better year (+19.5%) in 2020 and Nutrition sales were flat. E-Commerce sales grew by a record +56% in 2020 and now account for around 12% of group net revenue.

In Q4 2020, total RB net revenue was £3.6bn (US$5.1bn), +10.2%. Health grew by 2.8% to £1.2bn (US$1.7bn), with strong growth for Dettol, Durex and Gaviscon partially offset by the expected impact of the weak cough, cold & flu season, which resulted in the OTC portfolio being down just over 20% in the quarter. Hygiene (+25.7%) was even more the main growth driver for RB in Q4, while Nutrition sales were 3.5% lower, with excellent growth for Airborne and Neuriva offset by lower sales for Infant & Child Nutrition products in Greater China; a strategic review of the infant formula business in China, which represents 6% of group revenue, is underway. E-Commerce sales were up 50% in Q4, accounting for around 13% of total group revenue.

At the same time, RB announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Biofreeze brand from US-based Performance Health (Madison Dearborn Partners). Financial terms were not disclosed. In USA, Biofreeze is the No.1 clinically-recommended topical pain relief brand and has delivered robust double-digit sales growth. “We see compelling opportunities to develop the topical pain relief category globally with Biofreeze and other RB pain management brands including Nurofen, Moov and Tempra,” said RB CEO Laxman Narasimhan. “The brand taps into the growing global trend for wellness and self-care and aligns with our strategy to build our US Health footprint into new spaces and places.” The deal is expected to close in Q2 2021.

In addition, US-based private equity group Yellow Wood Partners has agreed to acquire RB’s Scholl foot care brand, which operates globally outside of the Americas, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will reunite Scholl with the Dr Scholl’s brand – operated by Yellow Wood as a standalone company since its acquisition from Bayer in 2019 – as one entity after more than 30 years of separate ownership. The combined company, which generates annual retail sales in excess of US$700mn, with leading market shares in the global foot care category, will operate in 50+ countries. The deal is expected to be completed by Q3 2021.

Now is your final chance to register for our webinar on 3 March focusing on Mental Wellness across the Americas — join Nicholas Hall and Jennifer Cooper to explore the Sleep, Memory & Mood markets. For more information, or to take a look at the full schedule of webinars for 2021, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

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