Medical glove and condom maker SSL International P.L.C. is considering selling its Marigold industrial and household glove unit to focus primarily on its core businesses.
While company officials are saying little about the possible sale, a spokeswoman acknowledged SSL has had discussions about the possibility with firms she declined to name. ``But there's certainly no pressure to do so because Marigold is doing very well,'' she said. ``It's not a hot potato.''
Nonetheless, SSL prefers to concentrate on its four core operations-Durex condoms, Regent latex and synthetic latex medical gloves, Scholl foot care products and Hibi antiseptics-which received most of the firm's growing product research and development and marketing expenditures last year. SSL is boosting that investment further in fiscal 2002, it indicated in its fiscal year-end preliminary results report. Marigold, while a sizable division, doesn't tie into the firm's prime health care and medical markets, the spokeswoman said.
The Marigold division offers a variety of industrial and household gloves-most made from natural rubber, nitrile rubber or vinyl-that run the hand protection gamut.
SSL is completing a comprehensive review of the Marigold business, which company officials said may be the first step toward its sale. The firm indicated it is not planning major divestments other than Marigold, because it's committed to driving sales and profits growth. But it said it is open to acquisition opportunities that could add value to the company's portfolio.
The industrial and household glove division had sales of about $69 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, up 2 percent from the $67.4 million registered the previous fiscal year.
SSL reported that most other top product brands performed well last year. Durex, with a sales jump of 20 percent in Asia, had an overall revenue boost of 4.6 percent, climbing to almost $186 million. Surgical glove sales improved by more than 5 percent to about $123 million as Regent's revenues in the U.S. grew by 8 percent, compared with overall market growth of about 7 percent. United Kingdom surgical glove sales, hurt by European imports, fell 7 percent.
SSL now has about 33 percent of the U.S. market compared to 29 percent the year before, the company said, adding that its share of the synthetic glove market grew to 29 percent from 13 percent.