Clorox chairman and CEO Benno Dorer is leaving no stone unturned in trying to get retail shelves fully stocked again — consistently — with the company’s popular COVID-19 fighting wipes and other disinfectant products.
Even still, it may be a few months before things are back to some form of normal in stores (or more precisely, a new normal) and online from a product availability standpoint.
“We have significantly increased our production. We’ve done so by simplifying our lineup, which allows our lines to run faster. We turned out 40% more products last quarter than we did in the previous year’s quarter,” Dorer explained in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “We’re activating party suppliers who produce for us to help us. And we’re investing in further capacity. So we continue to find new ways to speed up our lines and find capacity.”
Dorer added, “We think that there’s going to be substantial improvement this summer [in availability]. It’s going to be touch and go until then, unfortunately. But help is on the way, and I think things should ease up in the next few months.”
As no shocker, Clorox has seen a substantial pickup in business amidst the pandemic.
Fiscal third quarter sales surged 15% from the prior year. Volume rose 18%. Organic sales increased 17%. Earnings soared 31%. Sales and pre-tax earnings in Clorox’s closely watched cleaning segment increased an impressive 32% and 71%, respectively. But the company also saw huge gains in Hidden Valley dressing and Fresh Step cat litter as people quarantined at home.
Clorox shares have skyrocketed 30% year-to-date, dusting (no pun intended) the S&P 500.
Dorer says the Clorox team is working closely with local enforcement agencies to prevent price gouging on its products.
“There was an issue early on [with price gouging], but it's gotten a lot better. I see very little now — I check every single day and I don't find anything right now,” Dorer notes.
Continued Dorer, “So to be very clear, we do not condone price gouging, we want to make sure that consumers at all times are able to buy our products at the regular prices, especially during this time during the pandemic. It's particularly important that our customers also sell at regular prices. So we're talking about independent third-party sellers. And we have worked with major online retailers to get them offline. We've also worked along with our industry association, the Consumer Brands Association, involving the Department of Justice, to help get people offline. And that's been working. We're continuing to monitor the situation, we're continuing to get people offline, every now and then it keeps popping up. But I would say it's no longer a broad scale issue.”