UK healthcare firm boosted by global strength

Rising sales of Durex condoms in China, Italy and eastern Europe helped British healthcare firm SSL International bank an 18% hike in half-year earnings today.

Rising sales of Durex condoms in China, Italy and eastern Europe helped British healthcare firm SSL International bank an 18% hike in half-year earnings today.

The firm said Durex sales improved 9% in the six months to September 30 to £102.5m

(143.1m), boosting underlying pre-tax profits to £22.3m (31.1m) from £18.9m (€26.3m) a year earlier.

Sales of its Scholl footcare products rose 10.8%, driven by the success of its new Cracked Heal Repair Cream.

Chief executive Garry Watts said the restructuring should bring benefits to the company from 2009 onwards.

He added: “Our sales performance underlines the strength of our global brands and our marketing approach.”

As well as strong growth in Italy, eastern Europe and China, premium ranges such as Pleasuremax continued to perform well. Sales of the Durex Play range, which includes lubricants and vibrators, grew £2m (€2.7) to £14.6m (€20.3m) in the first half of the financial year.

Mr Watts added that the company’s work to turn around Scholl footwear was bearing fruit, with good progress across all product categories.

SSL’s other products include Syndol pain relief tablets, Meltus cough medicine and Mister Baby – a range of mother and baby products sold in southern Europe.

The firm lifted pre-tax profits 31% to £46.9 million in the year to March 31.

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