Reckitt continued to enjoy a strong boost in sales from its disinfectant products Dettol and Lysol as customers continue to take extra precautions to avoid spreading coronavirus.

In countries where restrictions are loosening, customers are also taking precautions in the bedroom, with the Durex maker reporting a strong rise in sexual wellbeing products – particularly in China.

Bosses said they expect this to grow in other countries as lockdowns and social distancing measures lead to the opportunity for more people to use their products.

The boost in sexual wellbeing sales was not enough to offset an overall fall in the company’s health division, where sales fell 16.4 per cent compared to a year ago, due to so many households stockpiling cold and flu medicines at the start of the pandemic.

In its nutrition division sales fell 12.3 per cent, again due to stockpiling, the company said, but hygiene sales were up 21.1 per cent leading to an overall sales tally for the first three months of the year of £3.5 billion – down 1.1 per cent overall.

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Chief executive Laxman Narasimhan said: “Demand for Lysol and Dettol continues to be strong as consumers remain vigilant to the spread of the virus and see use of our products, and improved hygiene habits, as a way of protecting their health and regaining normality in their lives.

“As is to be expected, the underlying drivers of near-term demand for disinfectant products are dynamic, with countries around the world at different stages of the pandemic, and we are therefore closely tracking shifts in consumer behaviour to understand supply-and-demand trends.

“Our health business is seeing improved trading in sexual wellbeing, very strong growth in Gaviscon and improved execution overall.

“Meanwhile, we expect the difficult current market conditions for our cold and flu relief products to improve over time.