Profile: Bart Becht, chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser

'Becht the skivvy' may take home £90m a year but the Reckitt Benckiser boss still asks shoppers for their cleaning tips

Bart Becht is said to do his own household cleaning, an unlikely claim for a businessman who took home £90m last year, on top of the £36.8m he was handed the year before.

But there is probably a ring of truth to the idea of "Becht the skivvy", as he is chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser, the company best known for cleaning products ranging from Cillit Bang to Vanish.

Becht, known for his attention to detail and work ethic, admitted recently he accosts shoppers to ask them for ideas on how they clean their homes.

"I talk to shoppers in the store. I ask them why they're picking up the product, and then go into their house and find out why they do the laundry the way they do. If you don't like to do that you shouldn't be in this business," he said.

Becht has been at the helm of Reckitt Benckiser since it was created in 1999 through the merger of Benckiser with Reckitt & Colman. A Dutchman, he read economics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and took an MBA at the University of Chicago. He joined the Benckiser side of the business in 1988, following a career at Procter & Gamble.

Some of the schemes that helped take his pay to £90m in 2009 date back to the formation of the company a decade ago, during which time Becht has prided himself on the share price performance and profitability. Over the past 10 years, the company is the fourth best performing stock in the FTSE 100.

It is also one of the top 10 advertisers in the UK, targeting attention on its main brands – cleaning and healthcare products such as Strepsils and Nurofen – having ditched older names such as Colman's Mustard.

Becht, who is married with three children, gives many of the shares he is awarded to a charitable trust that donates primarily to humanitarian causes. A frequent flyer as a result of Reckitt's global business, his home is a mansion overlooking the Sunningdale golf course in Berkshire.


Jill Treanor

The GuardianTramp

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