As targeted for 2010, we delivered like-for-like net revenue growth of +6%* for the Group excluding SSL, and +5%* for the business excluding SSL and RB Pharmaceuticals. Total adjusted income growth at +15%* was also very strong and again well ahead of our peers.
* at constant exchange rates
Our new Lysol/Dettol No-Touch Hand Soap System is a great example of such innovations. This automatic dispenser is a captive gadget-refill system and while one of our most technologically advanced products it is the convenience of it and the benefit of not having to touch a germy soap dispenser ever again that has made it so successful. It has also allowed us to take mostly surface oriented brands like Lysol in the USA or Dettol in the UK more into Personal Care, breaking new ground and creating future opportunities for these brands.
Our Powerbrand focus over the last decade is also delivering excellently in developing markets. Net revenue growth in these markets soared to a +18%* like-for-like growth rate.
In many of these countries, the categories in which RB normally operates barely exist or are very underdeveloped. Good examples are Veet depilatories, Harpic specialist toilet bowl cleaners and Vanish fabric treatment products. Launching our Powerbrands in these countries is therefore not just focused on carving out strong market share positions. More importantly it is focused on showing consumers the benefits of these products so that they become part of their regular needs as they care for their families, homes and themselves. In 2010 we continued our Powerbrand roll out in these countries.
In the more developed countries of Europe and North America markets retrenched. Heavy discounting by competitors, trying to counter volume declines as consumers came under pressure, led to negative market growth rates. Despite these conditions, we improved our market share on balance in these markets and eked out modest revenue growth.
As we make our Powerbrands bigger in new and existing markets, we get operating leverage and a better product mix, resulting in higher operating margins. This, combined with excellent cost optimisation in our supply chain, enabled us to deliver operating margin improvement of 200 basis points, taking it to 26.4% for the Group. Margins were also helped by the continued success of our RB Pharmaceuticals business.
All of the transactions increased our presence in the higher margin Health & Personal Care business, where we have built a track record of strong growth. Foremost among these was the purchase of SSL International which we announced in July and completed on 29 October.
This transaction step changes the size of our Health & Personal Care category, increasing its net revenues by an anticipated 36% to make it one third of the Group’s total net revenues. It has added two new Powerbrands with good further growth potential, taking our current arsenal to 19 Powerbrands in total. Durex, in the Sexual Wellbeing category, is the global No.1 condom brand and Scholl is the market leader in the Footcare category in many of the markets where it is present. This acquisition also materially enhances the scale and critical mass of our businesses in China and Japan.
Later in the year we also agreed to acquire Paras Pharmaceuticals in India. This will create a material health care business for us in one of the most promising health care markets in the world. It adds to our portfolio a number of leading Indian over-the-counter Health & Personal Care brands including: Moov, the No.1 topical analgesic pain ointment and D’Cold, the No.2 cold & flu remedy.
Their commitment goes beyond the commercial and is also focused on the planet’s environment and supporting those most vulnerable in our society. Last year we made significant progress towards our goal of reducing the total carbon footprint of products during their creation, their use and ultimately their disposal, by 20% by 2020. In only two years we have already achieved an 11% reduction – the same impact as taking nearly one million cars off the road. RB was ranked joint-first in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) 2010 FTSE 350 Report, and Sector Leader in its 2010 Global 500 Report; recognising our performance on both the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index and Carbon Performance Leadership Index.
We also helped to save children’s lives through our support of Save the Children in their emergency response work in places such as Haiti and Pakistan, and for their programmes to help children in many other countries around the world. Last year we helped to save 160,000 lives.
In conclusion, Reckitt Benckiser can look to 2011 with confidence. We have come through 2010 very well despite increasingly challenging conditions, and although the new year may hold a new set of challenges, our strategy, our innovation driven by our people and the new opportunities from acquisitions give us confidence that we can continue to deliver success.