Annual Report and Accounts Overview


Review of 2015


Our business

Our 13 €1 billion brands

  • Man using Axe deodorant Axe
  • Woman holding pot of Dove cream Dove
  • Child with Wall's icecream Heartbrand
  • Young girl watching Hellmann's mayonnaise being squeezed onto a slice of bread Hellmann's
  • Woman cooking Knorr soup Knorr
  • Man and woman looking at Lipton packet in supermarket Lipton
  • Lady using Lux in shower Lux
  • Magnum ice cream being held in front of ice cream freezer cabinet Magnum
  • Lady hanging washing with Omo bottle on work surface Omo
  • Child spreading Rama spread on toast Rama
  • Rexona advertising poster Rexona
  • Sunsilk advertising poster Sunsilk
  • Surf advertising poster Surf

Our markets

Unilever operates in the highly competitive fast moving consumer goods sector – a sector which is subject to an array of global pressures and volatility.

In broad terms, consumer demand remained weak in 2015, with market growth continuing to be subdued in emerging markets while showing some signs of low-level growth in North America and Europe.

The impact of digital technology continues and has now become a mainstream factor determining success in everything from manufacturing to marketing. The industry is rapidly adjusting to consumers operating in a mobile, connected world, albeit through fragmented media – from basic mobile phones and PCs to smartphones, tablets and TVs.

FMCG companies are among the first to experience and be affected by today’s rapidly changing tastes, social norms, population shifts and wealth distribution.

The industry is characterised by global competition between large multinational corporations seeking to differentiate themselves in the eyes of consumers while accessing markets through similar channels. Many have identified emerging markets as a major growth opportunity in the years to come.

Our strategic focus

To realise our vision we have invested in a long-term strategy of categories and brands that deliver growth to the benefit of all stakeholders.


Growing the business

  • Sales
  • Margin
  • Capital efficiency

Improving health and well-being

  • Nutrition
  • Health and hygiene

Enhancing livelihoods

  • Fairness in the workplace
  • Opportunities for women
  • Inclusive business

Reducing environmental impact

  • Greenhouses gases
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Sustainable sourcing

Our long-term strategic choices

Portfolio choices

  • Category choices
  • Active portfolio management
  • Building a Prestige business

Brands and innovation

  • A focused approach to innovation
  • Driving efficiency and margins
  • Increased investment in digital marketing

Market development

  • Routes to market
  • Emerging markets
  • E-commerce

Agility and cost

  • Zero-based budgeting
  • Manufacturing base and overheads
  • Leveraging scale


  • Attracting talent
  • Developing talent
  • Values-led and empowered



We deliver consistency in underlying sales growth, core operating margin and free cash flow by continuously investing in our supply chain, our brands and marketing, our people and IT.


By investing in innovation we can grow our market share while also seeking to enter new markets and new segments.


We seek continuous improvement in our world-class manufacturing to drive cost savings and higher returns, providing extra fuel for growth as cash is redeployed in new strategic opportunities.


Growth that’s responsible involves having a positive social impact and reduced environmental footprint, which is the essence of the USLP and is essential in protecting and enhancing our reputation.

Our business model

Unilever believes profitable growth should also be responsible growth. That approach lies at the heart of our business model, driven by sustainable living and the USLP. It guides our approach to how we do business and how we meet the growing consumer demand for brands that act responsibly in a world of finite resources. Our business model begins with consumer insight that informs brand innovation, often with partners in our supply chain, to create products we take to market supported by marketing and advertising across a range of distribution channels.


How we performed

Growing the business: Group

* Key Financial Indicators. These measures are non-GAAP measures. For further information about these measures, and the reasons why we believe they are important for an understanding of the performance of the business, please refer to our commentary on non-GAAP measures on pages 38 and 39 of the Strategic Report.

Growing the business: Categories

Personal Care


Home Care


The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

We launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) in 2010. It set three ambitious goals for 2020: to help more than 1 billion people improve their health and well-being; to halve the environmental impact of our products; and to enhance the livelihoods of millions of people through all elements of the value chain.

We use a simple framework to show how sustainability is helping us deliver more growth, lower costs, less risk and more trust. It provides our people with further strategic guidance across our categories and brands.

Improving Health
and Well-being

By 2020 we will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.
  1. Health & hygiene


    By 2020 we will help more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene. This will help reduce the incidence of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea.


    Around 482 million people reached by end 2015 through our programmes on handwashing, safe drinking water, oral health and self-esteem.

  2. Nutrition


    By 2020 we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.


    34% of our portfolio by volume met highest nutritional standards in 2015.

Reducing Environmental

By 2020 our goal is to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of our products as we grow our business.
  1. Greenhouse gases


    Halve the greenhouse gas impact of our products across the lifecycle by 2020.


    Our operations
    We produced 88.49kg CO2 from energy per tonne of manufacturing production (2014: 92.14kg).** ◊ Φ θ

    Our products' lifecycle
    Our greenhouse gas impact per consumer use has increased by around 6% since 2010. ¥

  2. Water


    Halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.


    Our operations
    We used 1.88m3 water per tonne of manufacturing production (2014: 2.01m3).** ◊ Φ

    Our products in use
    Our water impact per consumer use has reduced by around 1% since 2010.◊ ¥

  3. Waste


    Halve the waste associated with the disposal of our products by 2020.


    Our operations
    We sent for disposal 0.26kg of total waste per tonne of manufacturing production (2014: 1.19kg).** ◊ Φ

    Our products at disposal
    Our waste impact per consumer use has reduced by around 29% since 2010.◊ ¥

  4. Sustainable sourcing


    By 2020 we will source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably.


    60% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced by end 2015.


By 2020 we will enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business.
  1. Fairness in the workplace


    By 2020 we will advance human rights across our operations and extended supply chain.


    54% of procurement spend through suppliers meeting mandatory requirements of our Responsible Sourcing Policy.

    We published our first Human Rights Report in 2015.

    Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate for 2015 was 1.12 per million hours worked (2014: 1.05).** ◊ Φ

    Engagement score among 5,000 employees surveyed in 2015 was 77% (2014: 75%).** 

  2. Opportunities for women


    By 2020 we will empower 5 million women.


    We trained 70,000 women micro-entrepreneurs to sell our products in rural India by end 2015.Ж

    The percentage of persons of each sex who were Unilever managers was 55% male and 45% female (2014: 57% male and 43% female).**

  3. Inclusive business


    By 2020 we will have a positive impact on the lives of 5.5 million people.


    Since 2006, in partnership with others, we enabled around 600,000Ψ smallholder farmers and 1.8 million small-scale retailers to access initiatives which aimed to improve their agricultural practices or increase their sales.Ж


** Key Non-Financial Indicators.

 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) assured. For details and the basis of preparation see Annual Report and Accounts 2015 Downloads.

Φ Measured 1 October – 30 September.

 Full Global People Survey not undertaken in 2015. Comparator is for full survey among managers in 2014.

ж We are continuing to work on sharpening our metrics to understand our progress better and shape our business decisions.

Ψ We have tightened the criteria for smallholder farmer initiatives, resulting in a reduction in the number reported in 2015 compared to 2014.

θ Prior year restated to exclude third party site.

¥ 2010 baseline as restated in December 2015.

Our USLP commitments and targets are subject to internal verification. For details of the definitions and reporting periods used in the preparation of these commitments and targets see our Sustainable Living Report 2015 to be published in April 2016 at Sustainable Living.


How we deliver value

Lady choosing product from supermarket shelf

Our consumers

Consumer tastes and preferences are clearly moving towards products that are authentic, sourced sustainably and manufactured in a responsible way. All our categories are focused on addressing these challenges and opportunities with innovations that provide consumers with the products they want, with the benefits they need and the trust they demand.

Workers picking tea


2015 witnessed major steps forward both in Unilever’s core Purpose of making sustainable living commonplace and in the transformational change at a societal level needed to tackle the world’s major social, environmental and economic problems. Working in partnership with the UN, governments, NGOs, our suppliers and others, we are helping to lead the changes that society needs and that our company will benefit from in the long term.

Women having a training session at a Heartbrand ice cream factory in Turkey

Our people

Bringing our Purpose to life and making our vision a reality requires us to recruit and retain people of the highest quality. We want to help all our people be the best they can, to realise their potential and the potential of the business.

Lady using Dermalogica face cream

Our shareholders

We aim to deliver the best possible operational performance from the business to deliver maximum returns to our shareholders over the long term. The financial performance that results is based on growth that is consistent, competitive, responsible and profitable.



For additional downloads please visit the Annual Report and Accounts 2015 Downloads section.

Related content



Composition of the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2015

Our Annual Report and Accounts 2015 is in two parts:

Our Strategic Report

The Strategic Report contains information about us, how we create value and how we run our business. It includes our strategy, business model, markets and Key Performance Indicators, as well as our approach to sustainability and risk.

Governance and Financial Report

The Governance and Financial Report contains detailed corporate governance information, how we mitigate risk, our Committee reports and how we remunerate our Directors, plus our Financial Statements and Notes.

Legal notice relating to material on this page

The material on this Unilever Annual Report and Accounts Overview webpage (the Material) relates to the year ended 31 December 2015 and is provided for general information only. The Material does not (i) form part of the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2015 (Strategic Report and Governance and Financial Report) or Annual Report on Form 20-F 2015; or (ii) contain sufficient information to allow as full an understanding of the results and the state of affairs of Unilever as the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2015 or Annual Report on Form 20-F 2015. As such this Material should not be relied upon or used as the basis for making voting or investment decisions without consulting the full Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2015 or Annual Report on Form 20-F 2015 and other more complete or up-to-date sources of information. Information relating to Unilever’s results for current and prior periods do not necessarily reflect future trends, nor do they provide indicators of results for like periods. This Material is not intended to be and shall not be deemed to be an invitation or inducement to invest in or otherwise deal in any securities of the Unilever Group or in any other investment, nor to provide or constitute any advice or recommendation in connection with any investment decision, nor to constitute an offer to provide services in any jurisdiction in which the Unilever Group is not permitted to do so under any applicable law or regulation.

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The material on this website may contain forward-looking statements, including ‘forward-looking statements’ within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘will’, ‘aim’, ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘looks’, ‘believes’, ‘vision’, or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Unilever Group (the "Group"). They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance.

Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Among other risks and uncertainties, the material or principal factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are: Unilever's global brands not meeting consumer preferences; Unilever's ability to innovate and remain competitive; Unilever's investment choices in its portfolio management; inability to find sustainable solutions to support long-term growth; customer relationships; the recruitment and retention of talented employees; disruptions in our supply chain; the cost of raw materials and commodities; the production of safe and high quality products; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; successful execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic and political risks and natural disasters; financial risks; failure to meet high and ethical standards; and managing regulatory, tax and legal matters.

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Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group's filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the Group's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2015 and the Annual Report and Accounts 2015.

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