Clorox sees higher sales of cleaning wipes as virus spreads

The company is ramping up production to accommodate higher demand in US. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: Clorox Co’s chief executive officer said sales of his cleaning wipes are surging as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Benno Dorer, who has held Clorox’s top post since 2014, said in an interview that the company is ramping up production to accommodate higher demand in US, which accounts for 85% of its revenue.

As concerns around the spread of the virus intensify, sales of product categories such as wipes rose in double-digits last week, he added.

“We are seeing an uptick there. You can certainly conclude that if the total category is up, it can’t be up without Clorox wipes participating,” Dorer said, adding his company has about half the market share for wipes. Clorox is also seeing higher demand for its sprays and bleach, he said.

Clorox is preparing its supply chain to meet the higher demand for disinfecting wipes, Dorer said. It’s unclear if the “rapidly evolving” coronavirus situation is the lone factor behind the heightened sales because it’s still flu season, he said.

Investors have bet Clorox will see a benefit from the outbreak that first roiled daily life in China and is now appearing with increasing frequency in other nations.

Clorox stock posted five consecutive gains before plunging 5.5% on Friday amid a broad decline in the US stock market.

Even with Friday’s drop, Clorox shares are up more than 3.8% this year, compared with an 8.6 % decline for the S&P 500 Index.

Because of the outbreak, Clorox has suspended all business travel to Hong Kong and China, Dorer said.