Reckitt appoints new CEO; Q1 sales rise amid price hikes
Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser announced the appointment of a new chief executive on Wednesday as it posted a better-than-expected rise in first-quarter sales amid price hikes.
Reckitt said that Kris Licht - who has served as president of its health business and as chief customer officer since July 2020 - will become CEO designate as of 1 May and will immediately begin the transition to the role, working alongside current boss Nicandro Durante.
News of the appointment came alongside first-quarter numbers, which showed that group net revenue rose 14.4% to £3.9bn, with LFL sales up 7.9%. Analysts had been expecting LFL sales growth of 3.6%.
Reckitt cited broad-based growth across all business units and geographies and a price/mix contribution of 12.4% as it benefited from "strong carry over pricing" from the second half of last year. Volumes declined by 4.5%, however.
The group saw LFL net revenue growth of 2% in the hygiene business and 12.5% in the health segment.
Durante said: "Considering the strong start to the year, we are now targeting +3% to +5% group LFL net revenue growth for the year, underpinned by our well supported and exciting innovation programme, a resilient supply chain and ongoing executional improvements."
At 0935 BST, the shares were down 1.6% at 6,398p.
Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: "Like many businesses, the consumer goods giant behind brands like Nurofen and Strepsils has been raising prices to offset the pressures of inflation and preserve profit margins," she said.
"Demand appears to be holding up despite the consumer slowdown and the risk that individuals switch to unbranded cheaper supermarket alternatives to combat the squeeze on household budgets.
"Meanwhile there is change taking place at the top for Reckitt with Kris Licht taking over as CEO of Reckitt Benckiser by the end of the year, replacing Nicandro Durante. Laxman Narasimhan unexpectedly stepped down last September after three years at the helm, shaking its share price amid the C-suit uncertainty. Investors will be relieved that a new boss has been appointed, who has been with the firm since 2019 and is seen as a continuity candidate, unlikely to spearhead any immediate drastic changes at the group."