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Solid first half performance, continued growth across all Business Groups

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Average read time: 8 minutes

Today, we announced our results for the first half of 2023.

  • Underlying sales growth of 9.1%, driven by all Business Groups, with 9.4% price growth and -0.2% volume
  • Turnover increased 2.7% to €30.4 billion, with -3.2% from currency and -2.7% from disposals net of acquisitions
  • Underlying operating profit improved 3.3% to €5.2 billion, with a 10bps margin improvement to 17.1%
  • Underlying earnings per share improved 3.9%, diluted EPS up 23.6%,boostedby profit on disposals and lower restructuring spend
  • Completed third €750 million tranche of our ongoing share buyback programme of up to €3 billion
  • Brand and marketing investment increased €0.4 billion in constant exchange rates
  • Our billion+ Euro brands, accounting for 55% of Group turnover, delivered underlying sales growth of 10.8%, led by strong performances from Rexona, Hellmann’s, OMO, Sunsilk and Lux
  • Continued portfolio reshaping with the announced acquisition of the frozen yoghurt brand Yasso and the sale of the Suave brand in North America
Multi product illustration

Statement from Hein Schumacher, CEO

“Unilever’s performance in the first half highlights the qualities that attracted me to the business: an unmatched global footprint, a portfolio of great brands and a team of talented people.

“My early immersion in the business has confirmed my belief in Unilever’s strong fundamentals. The task ahead is to leverage these core strengths – supported by our simplified operating model – to drive improved performance and competitiveness. This is our absolute priority and it will mean bringing greater focus and sharper execution, with science-backed innovations and investment behind our brands.

“This opportunity to step up our performance and unlock our full potential makes it an exciting time to lead Unilever. I look forward to sharing further details when we report our Q3 results in October.”

Outlook

In a volatile and high-cost environment, we will deliver another year of strong underlying sales growth in 2023. We expect underlying sales growth for the full year to be above 5%, ahead of our multi-year range, with underlying price growth continuing to moderate through the year.

Our expectation for net material inflation (NMI) for 2023 is around €2 billion of which €0.4 billion is anticipated in the second half. We continue to expect a modest improvement in underlying operating margin for the full year, reflecting higher gross margin and increased investment behind our brands.

Unilever overall performance

Underlying sales growth in the first half was 9.1%, with 9.4% from price and -0.2% from volume. As underlying price growth has sequentially moderated from 13.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022, volumes were virtually flat with a step-up in performance in Beauty & Wellbeing and Personal Care offsetting volume declines elsewhere.

The percentage of our business winning market share[a] on a rolling 12 month-basis has reduced to 41%, reflecting the impact of a 17% SKU reduction, pricing dynamics, and consumer shifts in certain markets. These included Tea and Laundry value segments in India and Brazil respectively, and super-premium segments in Personal Care North America. We continue to focus on the longer-term health and competitiveness of the business while developing the portfolio into high-growth spaces and channels.

Beauty & Wellbeing grew underlying sales by 9.1%. Volume growth of 3.8% was led by continued double-digit growth in Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing, as well as strong growth in Hair Care. Personal Care underlying sales were up 10.8%, driven by price and 3.2% volume growth with strong sales of Deodorants. Home Care grew 8.4% with volumes almost flat in emerging markets and down in Europe. Nutrition grew 10.4% with strong growth of Dressings, while underlying volumes of -1.9% reflect a challenging European market. Ice Cream underlying sales growth was 5.7%, with volumes down 5.2% due to the in-home segment.

Emerging markets grew underlying sales by 10.6% with price of 10.0% and a return to positive volume growth at 0.6%. Latin America delivered 16.3% underlying sales growth with price moderating and volume up 1.6%. South Asia grew double-digit through price and some volume, driven by India. China grew 7.9%, with improved volumes following the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions. Growth in South East Asia was muted due to a sales decline in Indonesia, while Turkey delivered strong volume growth in a continued hyper-inflationary economy.

Developed markets grew underlying sales by 6.9%, with 8.4% from price and -1.4% from volume. Volumes held up well in North America, while underlying price growth remained elevated in Europe given its higher exposure to categories with significant cost inflation.

Turnover increased 2.7% to €30.4 billion, which included a currency impact of -3.2% and -2.7% from disposals net of acquisitions. Underlying operating profit was €5.2 billion, up 3.3% versus the prior year. Underlying operating margin improved by 10bps to 17.1%. Gross margin increased by 30bps despite €1.6 billion of net material inflation and increased production and logistics costs. The cost increases were fully mitigated by pricing, savings and improved mix.

After several periods of high cost inflation, gross margin remains 270bps below its level at H1 2019. Brand and marketing investment stepped up by €0.4 billion in constant exchange rates, a 30bps increase as a percentage of turnover in current exchange rates. Overheads improved by 10bps due to growth leverage while we continued to invest in capabilities and our Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing businesses.

Operating model and capital allocation

Since 1 July 2022, our simpler, more category-focused operating model for Unilever has been in place, organised around five Business Groups and a technology-driven backbone, Unilever Business Operations. We continue to expect around €600 million of cost savings, with the majority delivered by the end of 2023.

After completing two €750 million tranches in 2022 of our ongoing share buyback programme of up to €3 billion, we completed a third €750 million tranche on 2 June 2023. The quarterly interim dividend for the second quarter is maintained at €0.4268.

We completed the sale of the Suave brand in North America on 1 May 2023. On 14 June, we announced the acquisition of Yasso Holdings, Inc., a premium frozen Greek yogurt brand in the United States.

Beauty & Wellbeing (20% of Group turnover)

Beauty & Wellbeing underlying sales grew 9.1%, with 5.1% from price and 3.8% from volume.

Hair Care grew high single-digit with positive volume growth driven by the Americas. Sunsilk and TRESemmé delivered double-digit growth helped by successful relaunches.

Core Skin Care grew mid-single digit with Vaseline performing strongly, as we extended the successful Gluta-Hya range into the pro age segment, offering additional benefits and bringing new consumers to the brand. In North Asia, sales of AHC declined double-digit as we reset the cross-border channel.

Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing delivered another period of volume-led, double-digit growth. In Prestige, Paula’s Choice, Dermalogica and Hourglass delivered strong growth supported by new product launches backed by cutting-edge science and technology such as Dermalogica’s phyto nature oxygen cream. In Health & Wellbeing, Liquid IV continued to perform well, and we launched three sugar-free variants of its hydration technology without compromise on flavour or function.

Underlying operating margin was flat with an improvement in gross margin offset by an increase in overheads.

Personal Care (23% of Group turnover)

Personal Care underlying sales grew 10.8% with price growth of 7.3% and volume growth of 3.2%.

Deodorants delivered high double-digit growth driven by Europe and the Americas, where volumes were boosted by a recovery in service levels and associated pipeline fill. Axe grew double-digit as we rolled out the Fine Fragrance range, combining odour protection with fine fragrances. We launched new variants under Rexona which build on our superior 72-hour technology, delivering high double-digit growth for the brand. The Dove Personal Care portfolio also grew double-digit.

Skin Cleansing grew high single-digit with strong growth in Latin America and South Asia.

Oral Care grew high single-digit as we relaunched Pepsodent in South East Asia.

Underlying operating margin decreased 10bps with an improvement in gross margin and a reduction in overheads more than offset by a step-up in brand and marketing investment.

Home Care (20% of Group turnover)

Home Care underlying sales grew 8.4%, with 11.2% from price and -2.5% from volume.

Fabric Cleaning grew double-digit. In Europe, we rolled out OMO capsules with plastic free packaging to more countries, delivering top cleaning performance with less plastic and less chemicals and contributing to improved volumes and double-digit growth for the brand.

Fabric Enhancers grew mid single-digit driven by price. In China, Comfort Beads were relaunched with improved fragrance that lasts longer.

In Latin America, we introduced the first product range specifically designed for the Launderette and Hospitality segment, delivering the perfect white wash, under both the OMO and Comfort brands.

Home & Hygiene grew mid-single digit while the Air Wellness business declined.

Underlying operating margin improved 30bps led by an improvement in gross margin.

Nutrition (22% of Group turnover)

Nutrition underlying sales grew 10.4%, with 12.6% from price and -1.9% from volume.

Scratch Cooking Aids grew high single-digit. Growth was price-led with negative volume, particularly in Europe and North America.

Dressings continued to grow double-digit with Hellmann’s driving sales during the Easter and BBQ season, combining the “make taste, not waste” campaign with innovation such as spicy mayonnaise in the United States.

Unilever Food Solutions accelerated its double-digit growth through the first half with China returning to double-digit growth in the second quarter.

Underlying operating margin increased by 80bps, mainly driven by a reduction in overheads, partially offset by lower gross margin as a result of continued input cost inflation.

Ice Cream (15% of Group turnover)

Ice Cream underlying sales grew 5.8%, with 11.5% from price and -5.2% from volume.

In-home Ice Cream grew low-single digit as volumes continued to be impacted by lower consumption due to the discretionary nature of the category in an inflationary environment.

Out-of-home Ice Cream grew double-digit with positive price and positive volume. In Europe, poor weather in April and May was largely offset by good weather in June.

Magnum grew high single-digit with the Starchaser and Sunlover limited edition innovation performing well. In North America, we launched Talenti mini gelato and sorbetto bars, the perfect indulgent snack to be enjoyed on the go. The Heart brand grew mid-single digit, supported by a new plant-based variant under the Twister range.

Underlying operating margin declined 100bps due to an input cost driven reduction in gross margin.



[a]

Competitiveness % Business Winning measures the aggregate turnover of the portfolio components (country/category cells) gaining value market share as a % of the total turnover measured by market data. As such, it assesses what percentage of our revenue is being generated in areas where we are gaining market share.


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