RB has the right man for a brand new role

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You probably have not heard of Volker Sydow. He is German, he is a top class marketer and he is celebrating a new job. The new global category director for sexual wellbeing and footcare at Reckitt Benckiser (RB) may not have the most glamorous job title but he won’t care.

Sydow’s new role will see him manage the global NPD programme and brand development of Durex and Scholl, the latest two additions to RB’s impressive list of ’powerbrands’.

Outside the investment community and those operating in the FMCG market, few people know too much about RB, which owns the Calgon, Air Wick, Nurofen, Dettol, Bonjela, Finish, Gaviscon, Vanish and E45 brands in addition to many other household staples.

Led by CEO Bart Becht, most famous perhaps for reports of his £90m pay packet, the company has seen sensational growth built on heavy commitment to marketing and a quite exceptional rate of innovation. RB has doubled its net revenue to £7.75bn since 2000. About 35% of that revenue comes from products launched in the three previous years – a dream environment for any marketer. What is more impressive is that the company achieves profit margins that are significantly higher than Procter & Gamble and roughly double that of Unilever. RB has now spent an entire decade outpacing the rest of the market for growth.

“Sydow will be given the encouragement and space to create the innovations and brand extensions in the new categories that will help drive growth at RB”

Its latest acquisition, that of Durex manufacturer SSL, was completed this week. And so we return to Volker Sydow, who began his career at RB and later excelled in group and international roles at Henkel, dairy giant Müller and Durex maker SSL. I predict he will prove some early doubters wrong. For there were questions over this acquisition. Though undeniably a good fit for RB, some commentators felt that the £2.5bn paid was too steep. But this company has a track record of creating value. I reckon Sydow will reap the benefit of RB’s willingness to spend and its experience of growing brands. He’ll be given the encouragement and space to create the innovations and brand extensions in the new categories that will help drive growth at RB.

Next week we publish a cover profile of RB’s UK general manager Camillo Pane. He reveals glimpses of insight into this astonishing marketing-led culture that has driven one of the great corporate growth stories of this century.

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