Reckitt to ramp up presence in China
British consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc said it is committed to bringing in innovative health and hygiene solutions as a corporate citizen active in the business communities of China and the United Kingdom, its top business executive said.
A member of the China-Britain Business Council since 2018, Reckitt is part of the UK's business network bridging bilateral opportunities, and is poised to grow its presence in China's health undertaking, said Reckitt CEO Laxman Narasimhan.
"The CBBC is a great platform to help members grow trade and investment between the UK and China," said Narasimhan, who was among UK business representatives attending a virtual conference attended by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.
"I am honored and humble to attend this meeting. I very much appreciate the joint efforts mentioned by Premier Li to promote world economic recovery, address global challenges and improve social wellbeing of Chinese and British people," Narasimhan said.
"As a member of CBBC, Reckitt has benefited from its local market insights and extensive government networks in China," he said. "We've gained realistic support in terms of intelligence about import/export of health hygiene products and for our social welfare investment, so as to help us bring our mission to life in China."
China claimed around 11 percent of Reckitt's 14-billion-pound ($19.3 billion) business, being one of the two largest overseas markets outside of the UK, said its 2020 annual report.
To further amp up the local market, in which it has had a presence over the past two decades, the company now positions China's "strategic role" as an international hub in the global supply chain system.
For instance, it kicked off a $300-million project to build a new and global iconic manufacturing and innovation facility in Taicang, Jiangsu province, to support growth expectations on health and hygiene business in Asia. The site is set to be put into use this year.
The company also expanded its production footprint in Lanzhou, capital of Northwest China's Gansu province. The new base focuses on applying the waterborne polyurethane material for the product innovation and production of Durex condoms.
China is also an important market for hygiene brand Dettol, dish-washing label Finish and the health nutrient-related VMS brands with significant potential for future expansion, Narasimhan said. The company is also introducing other hygiene and disinfection brands like Harpic and Lysol later this year.
Advancing the health and wellbeing of the Chinese has been a prioritized task outlined in the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). Goals as such and the development direction of building a "healthy China" are "closely aligned with our business and strengths", he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly raised hygiene awareness among the population. In October, the Dettol brand launched its first ever alcohol-free hand sanitizer, using bio-renewable active ingredients, including lactic acid sourced from cane sugar, and citric acid sourced from corn, to boost efficacy.
Following its successful launch in China, it will be rolled out internationally in 2021, the company's annual report showed.
Apart from donating in cash and goods to combat the public health crisis, Reckitt launched a global initiative in July last year to generate high-quality scientific research-based evidence to offer public health recommendations and promote behavior that improves global hygiene.
Specifically in China, the company's Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute has partnered with top Chinese institutions like Tsinghua University to help shift healthy behaviors and habits through interdisciplinary research projects and a fellowship program.
"We are well-equipped and ready to fill Chinese people's need for healthier life, with our trusted household brands and innovative product portfolio, powered by our strategic investment in innovation and supply chain," Narasimhan said.