Unilever's first quarter sales beat expectations

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

Global consumer products group, Unilever, has reported stronger than expected sales growth in its first quarter trading update.

The company, which owns household brands such as Dove beauty products, Lipton, Hellman’s and Ben & Jerry’s, said sales were helped by higher prices and volume, and strength in emerging markets.

Overall, turnover was up 3.1 per cent in the quarter to €12.4bn. The firm’s Beauty & Personal Care division was the highest, with €5.4bn in turnover. Food & Refreshment came in at €4.5bn and Home Care reported €2.7bn in turnover. Home Care was also the sector that reported the highest growth, coming in at six per cent.

"We have delivered a solid start that keeps us on track for our full year expectations”, said Alan Jope, Unilever’s CEO. “Growth was led by emerging markets and was balanced between volume and price.

“Accelerating growth is our number one priority. It requires both great execution and a continued strategic shift into faster growth segments and channels. 

“We saw good performance in key growth channels including out of home and e-commerce and benefited from stronger global innovations and faster and more relevant local innovation. 

“The acquisitions we have made since 2015 collectively grew double-digit in the first quarter. With the leadership changes announced in March, we are building the right team to drive our growth agenda.

"For the full year we continue to expect underlying sales growth to be in the lower half of our multi-year 3 - 5 per cent range, an improvement in underlying operating margin that keeps us on track for the 2020 target and another year of strong free cash flow."

Unilever's shares in London were trading 3.2 per cent higher at £45.18 on Thursday morning.

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