Operating for some 90 years, Rentokil is now a leader in a £16bn global market
By Mike Cowley
It was back in the 1920s that Harold Maxwell-Lefroy, Professor of Entomology at Imperial College, London, was called in by the UK Government to find a solution to control death watch beetles who were munching their way through the support beams in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament.
Having come up with the first successful compound to stop the rampaging beetles in their tracks – so saving the historic building – the Professor, the first ever such appointment in his discipline, suddenly found his services in demand from churches all over the country who were also under threat from the same species of wood chewers.
So he saw an opportunity to turn it into a commercial product. And the first name he chose was Entokil, only to find that this had been taken. So he simply put an R in front of it and Rentokil was born.
Today Rentokil is a name of which few people in the UK will not have heard. But perhaps what they don’t know is that, as part of Rentokil Initial plc, it has become the global leader in a market worth $16bn, a situation that has just won it the Queen’s Award for International Trade.
And it is still battling with a range of pests of all types using both cutting edge science and technology to support its mission statement with its focus on Protecting People and Enhancing Lives.
Rentokil’s international pest control revenues increased by 73% between 2010 and 2015, and in 2016 total ongoing revenues (including the UK) grew by 25.9%.
The company now operates in over 66 countries and has market-leading positions in 46 of these in continental Europe, Asia, Pacific, South Africa, the Middle East and in the UK.
It has a rapidly growing business in North America – the largest pest control market in the world – and has also expanded in Central and Latin America in recent years. In 2017, Rentokil became the leading pest control provider in India.
Rentokil’s depth of expertise and experience has seen the business win some of the most challenging and prestigious pest control contracts. In 2016 Rentokil successfully delivered a full range of pest control services, including mosquito control, to the Rio de Janiero Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of the extensive risk management approach undertaken by the Rio 2016 Organising Committee.
Also last year, Rentokil was awarded a contract by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help control the species of mosquito that could potentially carry the Zika virus across the US and its protectorates.
In the past three years Rentokil’s UK-based research scientists have developed a pipeline of innovations including products such as Lumnia, the first range of electronic fly killers using LED lighting rather than traditional blue-light fluorescent tubes, and RapidPro, the world’s fastest-acting rodenticide for effective reduction of mouse infestations. In 2016 Rentokil had 15 innovation or design patents applications in progress.
Rentokil’s market-leading digital expertise, is another important driver of the business’s growth. PestConnect, Rentokil’s new ‘Internet of Things’ remote monitoring system for rodents is the world’s smartest mouse trap.
It is now used in over 1,200 customer premises across 12 countries and has sent over 20 million individual data messages relating to the presence of rodent activity and service productivity, enabling Rentokil’s technicians to be more efficient and to deliver a better customer service.
The company’s digital leadership was further evidenced in 2016 with the launch of a collaboration with Google, which will lead to the global deployment of innovative digital pest control products and, in the future, to the development of ‘next generation’ services to pro-actively combat against the threat of pest infestation.
Commenting on The Queen’s Award, Andy Ransom, Chief Executive of Rentokil Initial plc said: “We are extremely proud to receive The Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Being acknowledged in this way is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the hard work and commitment of our colleagues across the world.”
Olympian task of preventing disease at 2016 Rio Games
The eyes of the world were on Brazil last summer as tens of thousands of visitors and athletes arrived for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. And understandably, the health and safety of everyone attending the Games was of absolute importance to the International Olympic Committee.
Ahead of the Games, Rentokil was appointed to undertake pest control and mosquito control services as part of the extensive risk management approach that was undertaken by the Rio 2016 Organising Committee.
Rentokil is Brazil’s leading provider of pest control services and has been supporting businesses, public authorities and residential customers there since 2012.
The company commenced work for the Games in May 2016, providing an intensive range of preventative pest control services to the Athletes’ Village, Operating Village, three Media Villages, arenas, stadiums and the Olympic Parks, including hospitality areas.
A core team of 20 technicians provided a full range of services to keep rodents, flies, insects, birds, and mosquitoes at bay. Each member of the team undertook additional technical and operational training to work under the specific procedures of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee.
The Rentokil team was able to monitor and apply new applications where required, and was available 24/7 to undertake preventive and corrective services as required, particularly in priority areas such as the Athletes’ Village.
Much attention ahead of the Games focused on the harrowing effects of the Zika virus in Brazil and around the world, and thus Rentokil set about delivering the most extensive mosquito control programme ever undertaken for an event of this scale.
Despite large areas of open water, poor sanitation in parts of Rio (ideal conditions in which larvae can develop) and high temperatures, the combination of Rentokil’s service, highly-trained and dedicated technicians and the introduction of new innovations delivered a highly effective prevention service.
French polo player Mehdi Maezouki commented in the French media that, with all that appeared in the international press, he was apprehensive about attending the Rio Olympic Games. However, he added after the Games that he had experienced no problems, saying, “Zika? I did not see a mosquito in Rio. I see many more in Paris”.