PZ Cussons says profit rises as Australia, UK performance improves

Thu Dec 6, 2012 2:54am EST

Dec 6 (Reuters) - British soap and shampoo maker PZ Cussons Plc said first-half profit is likely to be about 10 percent higher, driven by an improvement in profitability of its Australian business and strong performance in its home market.

Revenue during the six months to Nov. 30 was broadly flat due to difficult trading conditions in its key Nigerian market, the maker of Imperial Leather soaps said in an interim trading statement.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has been rocked by unrelenting violent religious clashes and the removal of an $8 billion fuel subsidy in January that led to an eight-day national strike.

PZ Cussons, which specialises in home-care, personal care and beauty care products, gets about 40 percent of its revenue from Africa.

Core brands such as Imperial Leather, Carex and Original Source had performed well in the UK, the company said.

PZ Cussons said that it had taken measures to improve the performance of its Australian business. However, trading conditions in Australia remained challenging.

The company had said in July that retailers in Australia had devoted greater shelf space to private labels, hurting PZ Cussons' volumes and margins in the home-care business.

The company is expected to announce half-year results on Jan. 29, 2013.

Shares in the company closed at 360 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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