Strong sales of condoms boosted profits at Durex owner SSL International today as it looked to promote both safer and better sex.
SSL said pre-tax profits were up 33% last year to £35.7m (€52.3m) after sales of Durex condoms and other Durex sex products lifted 9%.
The company added that the new financial year had begun “satisfactorily” as it looked to deliver double digit profits growth for the next three years.
It came as Durex continued to grow its new Play range which offers lubricants and vibrators alongside the firm’s traditional condom product base.
SSL said: “Our positioning of Durex to provide not only safe sex but help people have better sex has been a key driver of sales growth as we have evolved our product offering into three clearly defined groups – condoms, lubricants and devices – all under the Durex banner.”
Durex has a 30% share of the world condom market and achieved sales of £162.3m (€238m) last year, compared with £148.6m (€218m) 12 months earlier.
Condoms represent more than 90% of Durex sales and are increasingly being marketed at adults in the 16 to 24 age bracket after research showed that people stick with a brand through life if they find it safe and reliable.
But SSL said the Durex Play range had also been “particularly successful” with sales of £12.2m (€18m).
The company has benefited from a renewed sense of sexual openness created by television shows such as Sex and the City.
The improved performance at Durex helped deliver a 4.6% rise in underlying sales growth at SSL to £450.6m (€660m).
There was also a strong showing by sandals firm Scholl in its footcare division, which includes treatments for common foot conditions as well as specialist skincare creams.
Sales were up 11% to £95.8m (€140.4m), although sales of its sandals in the footwear division fell 3% to £66.3m (€97.1m) after a decline in demand for the autumn/winter range.
“However, in the all important second half sales of our spring/summer range increased to £38.3m (€56.1m), almost 2% ahead of last year,” said SSL.
Shares in SSL were up more than 3% today.
Sebastien Jantet, of Investec Securities, said it was “a good set of results in line with expectations”.