INEOS chief hails progress on hand sanitisation business and hints at further diversifications

The chief operating officer of INEOS Hygienics has said that the wider firm would be open to further diversifying the business into new areas as it expands its consumer-facing offerings.

George Ratcliffe
George Ratcliffe

George Ratcliffe, son of the firm’s CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe, told The Yorkshire Post that its sanitisation business was poised for further growth as it prepares to launch new products this summer.

INEOS, which owns a number of professional sports teams and is also set to launch a new 4x4 vehicle, the INEOS Grenadier, next year, is increasingly moving into new markets away from its core chemicals business.

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Mr Ratcliffe said: “This is the new direction we are going in.

INEOS is becoming increasingly diversified.

“We are already quite well established in sport. The sports teams are owned by INEOS, it’s not sponsorships.

“If you are going to see INEOS grow in a new area that feels further away from its core, it will be in the consumer area as you have a platform to build it off.

“There will be more to come for sure but for now we have enough on our plate.”

Mr Ratcliffe was speaking little over a year on since it established a factory in just 10 days to produce hand sanitiser at Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, just as lockdown began.

It confirmed it was moving into sanitisation permanently in July 2020 and in the coming months it will launch new products which have a moisturising element to them to attract consumers put off by the abrasive and harsh nature of hand sanitiser and will continue to target the consumer, medical and industrial market for these products.

“INEOS Hygienics is very much here to stay,” he said.

“Our view is that hospitals have always had a huge demand for this stuff. I think the majority of the public only saw this when they were in hospitals.

“The other two sides are the retail side and the industrial sector where people may expect it to be there when you go to work. We expect continuing growth in the industrial sector as employers have a duty to look out for employees.

“The public side is different, there are lots of plus points for it.

“We are set to launch a moisturising version that is not quite as harsh on your hands. We have a pipeline of products that have that sensible moisturising aspect, which members of the public, who might not want to use sanitiser, look to in the long-term.”

The move has been a departure for INEOS, who as a firm has always grown by acquisition and has never focused on building brands, creating new facilities

or even on consumer-facing products.

“Within a year what we focused on was building a business from scratch,” said Mr Ratcliffe.

“There was a big initial up-front fee but we took a view on how we would commit to it when we were giving away the products for free. In Europe we invested £50m into the actual factories.

We also invested into a brand (INEOS Hygienics). What is that going to mean for the bottom line of INEOS? I think when the world starts to get more mobile there will be a payback period, which we are almost at the beginning of now. The UK factory will be up and running by July.

“A lot of work went into it, the team are very proud of it. Even for a big company we were pleased and proud of how quickly we did that.”

The sanitiser factory in County Durham is one of six pop-up factories INEOS established across the world.

Its products were quickly being shipped to hospitals around Europe and won the business praise, something Mr Ratcliffe said was enjoyed by its employees.

“I think our style of industry is often in the press not for positive, but negative reasons.

“What Ineos Hygienics has done is take the INEOS name and shown it in a good light.

“There is a lot of good things INEOS contributes to outside of our core business but we do not often talk about it.

“INEOS Hygenics was an opportunity to do that,” he added.