By Siddharth Cavale
(Reuters) - Exploiting the strength of Lysol and Dettol brands, Reckitt Benckiser <RB.L> is seeking bespoke supply and sanitation deals with travel companies and hotels as the coronavirus crisis makes hygiene a high priority.
British-based Reckitt signed a deal on Monday with Delta Air Lines <DAL.N> to provide its Lysol cleaning products for toilets and other high traffic areas.
It has also clinched long-term contracts with Avis Budget car rentals and Hilton Hotels <HLT.N> that it expects will boost its business once people start to get more comfortable with traveling, renting cars and staying in hotels again.
Laxman Narasimhan, who became Reckitt's CEO last year, said on Tuesday he wanted to build the professional hygiene business as part of a 100 million pounds ($128.6 million) additional investment announced by the consumer products company in new areas of growth.
He was speaking after Reckitt reported market beating first-half results, as households increasingly worried about health and hygiene stocked up on Lysol sprays, Dettol soap and Mucinex cough syrup.
Under the newly formed professional service business, Reckitt works with companies to research and develop new disinfecting plans for busy areas, such as hotel lobbies and airports, and also establishes a series of cleaning protocols and standards.
"On professional, we clearly recognize the fact that our brands play very well in areas where they need to communicate a trust mark to our consumers," Narasimhan said, adding that he was "approaching this business cautiously and building it out steadily".
The company said it moved with speed with some pivotal partners, but has been selective with others as the contracts signed are not short-term, but longer-term projects.
Though the business is yet to contribute to group sales, Narasimhan said, the unit would ramp up in the second half.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)