Hand Sanitizer Demand Will Stay ‘Exponentially Higher' Than 2019 Levels, CEO of Purell Parent Says

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  • Hand sanitizer producer Purell expanded capacity threefold last year to meet demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, Carey Jaros, CEO of parent company Gojo Industries, told CNBC on Wednesday.
  • "It won't be at the levels it was at last year, but it's going to be exponentially higher than it was in 2019," she predicted of the demand for hand sanitizer in a post-pandemic world.
  • The company pumped $400 million into expanding manufacturing capabilities last year, which is 10 times more than it invests in a typical year, Jaros said.

Purell, the inventor of hand sanitizer, is expecting that demand for the cleansing product will remain elevated from pre-coronavirus pandemic levels as the world emerges from the biggest global health crisis in a century.

Sales of the company's hand sanitizer have spiked triple digits amid the pandemic, and Carey Jaros, CEO of Purell parent Gojo Industries, told CNBC on Wednesday that she expects business to remain significantly higher than usual going forward.

"It won't be at the levels it was at last year, but it's going to be exponentially higher than it was in 2019," Jaros, who has led the private company since January 2020, said on "Closing Bell."

Purell reports hand sanitizer sales surged 568% to $1.5 billion year over year through late February. To meet the unprecedented demand for cleaning products as consumers sought ways to lessen their chances of contracting Covid-19, the company pumped $400 million into expanding manufacturing capabilities, increased operations to around-the-clock production and hired more than 500 new employees last year.

The capital investment in 2020 was about 10 times what Purell spends in a typical year, Jaros said. It tripled its plant count in North America, gearing up the company with the capacity to produce and meet demand during and after the health crisis, she said.

In the post-pandemic era there will be a "new normal" defined by "visible hygiene" and trusted name brands, according to Jaros, who noted that there is opportunity in spaces such as stores and offices that will be maintaining sanitizer stations.

"I truly believe that the combination of visible hygiene, which is, you know, sanitizer dispensers really in sight anywhere that customers can see them, and the power of the Purell brand means that demand absolutely will sustain," Jaros said.

Purell is not the only cleansing company expecting business to maintain shape after Covid is under control.

Procter & Gamble Chairman and CEO David Taylor late last month said that while consumers are now less likely to buy and hoard supplies than they were last year, purchasing cleaning products will stay top of mind at least for an "extended period of time post-pandemic."

Clorox is also expanding production, making 1.5 million canisters per day, up from 1 million last quarter, CEO Linda Rendle said in February.

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