AS THE boss of one of the largest producers of hygiene products in the country, businessman Laxman Narasimhan has set his sights on keeping the nation healthy throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, which deals with health, hygiene and home goods, Narasimhan has been at the helm of the FTSE 15 company as its products flew off the shelves at the height of the crisis.
During the first months of the Covid-19 outbreak, hand sanitiser and hand wash were bought in bulk by anxious consumers, keen to decrease their risk of catching the virus. It was rare to see a fully stocked hygiene shelf at the height of panic buying.
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed how we look at health. The current obsession with cleanliness has seen the sales of Reckitt’s products, including Dettol, Vanish and Lysol, soar.
According to analysis, shares in Reckitt have risen 25 per cent this year. Revenues rose almost 12 per cent in the first six months of this year and profits by 14 per cent to £1.43 billion.
With Narasimhan in control, Reckitt has made other moves to fight the virus. It has launched a £32-million ‘Fight for Access’ fund, equivalent to 1 per cent of its operating profit, to combat the pandemic and has also funded a coronavirus global facts website. A TikTok social media campaign to encourage people to wash their hands properly for 20 seconds went viral, soon after it was launched.
It is also a big employer, with more than 4,000 staff across the UK, and has manufacturing services in Derby, Hull and Nottingham.
Does Narasimhan believe the hygiene trend – and Reckitt’s outstanding growth – will last?
“We have been adopting new habits during lockdown. If you behave the same way for 60 days, some of