Unilever shows solid progress in first quarter 2012

Strong growth in a difficult economic environment

Today (26 April), Unilever released its results for the first quarter 2012. A good start to the year underlines the progress that has been made in transforming Unilever into a sustainable growth company.


  • Turnover increased by 11.9% to €12.1 billion

  • Underlying sales growth* was 8.4% with emerging markets up 11.9% and developed markets up 4.2%; all divisions contributing to growth

  • Underlying volume growth was 3.5%, with pricing up 4.7%

  • Quarterly dividend up 8% to €0.243

The first quarter results reflect solid performance in challenging market conditions. Despite sluggish economies, weak consumer confidence in many markets and sustained levels of competitive intensity, all of our Divisions grew strongly with a positive contribution from volume. Commenting on the company’s performance, CEO Paul Polman said: “Emerging markets, now 56% of the business, have again delivered strong growth and while the good performance in developed markets was against a weak prior year comparator, our performance is pleasing given struggling economies, continued fragile consumer confidence and competitor activity.”

Beauty & Personal Care

In Skin Cleansing we grew ahead of our markets with Dove reflecting the continuing success of Dove Nutrium Moisture shower gels and the roll-out of Dove Men+Care. Lifebuoy also progressed strongly, helped by the ’10 seconds germ-kill’ campaign and the introduction of Lifebuoy Clini-Care10 in India. Radox performed well in the UK, and the launch of Simple in the US along with a strong performance from Fair & Lovely also helped drive growth. Vaseline performed well, continuing to benefit from the Essential Moisture hand & body range which is now in 14 markets.

Hair benefited from the roll-out of our brands into new markets and strong innovation performance. TRESemmé growth is being driven by the success of the launch in Brazil and the new split ends range. Dove Damage Therapy continues to perform well and the premium Style and Care styling range has just been introduced in the US. Clear is growing rapidly across Asia and Latin America and Axe hair is now being rolled out across Europe with good initial acceptance.

Deodorants performed well, driven by our market development activities in emerging markets, with Dove growing double digit reflecting success in both the male and female markets. Rexona Maximum Protection is being rolled out to new markets and Axe Anarchy is performing strongly. Oral growth was driven by market development activities and trading up through premium innovations, such as the recent introduction of Signal Sensitive Expert in France.

Foods & Refreshment

Growth in the Savoury category reflected the continued success of the Knorr baking bags and the extension of the jelly bouillon technology into gravy. Our Knorr ‘Side-Kicks’ range is performing well in the US and we have launched Knorr Rice-Mate in the Philippines.

Spreads and Dressings both grew strongly. The new Flora margarine made with cool-blend technology is now being rolled out across Europe. Liquid margarine ranges are doing well and the growth of the Hellmann’s brand continues to be driven by the campaign to encourage new uses of mayonnaise.

Home Care

Robust laundry growth reflects the ongoing focus on improving the quality of our products, impactful advertising and sustained delivery from our key innovations, such as Omo with built-in pre-treaters. White space launches also contributed with successful launches of Comfort fabric conditioners in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines.

Household cleaners benefited from the rapid growth of Sunlight hand dishwash products in South Asia and South East Asia, the success of the Domestos Toilet System range and the introduction of Domestos in Argentina, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and of Cif in China.


Ice cream growth was helped by the successful launches of Magnum in North America, Malaysia and the Philippines and the introduction of the Magnum Infinity range in Europe. The earlier seasonal pipeline fill in Europe accompanied a good sell-in for Cornetto Devils & Angels and Cornetto Enigma Cookie.

Beverages growth was slower. In Brazil we saw weak volumes in soy beverages following recent significant price increases. However, the recently relaunched Lipton brand is performing well in Russia and we have just started shipments of Lipton Tea & Honey in the US.

Go to Investor relations to read the full first quarter 2012 Trading Statement. Find out more on Unilever in the About section of this website.

*Underlying sales growth is calculated by excluding the effect of acquisitions, disposals and currency movements.

Unilever PLC

Unilever House
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 207 822 5252

Unilever NV

Weena 455
3013AL Rotterdam


+31 (0) 10 217 4000

Safe harbour statement

This announcement 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 ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘believes’ 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 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, including, among others, competitive pricing and activities, economic slowdown, industry consolidation, access to credit markets, recruitment levels, reputational risks, commodity prices, continued availability of raw materials, prioritisation of projects, consumption levels, costs, the ability to maintain and manage key customer relationships and supply chain sources, consumer demands, currency values, interest rates, the ability to integrate acquisitions and complete planned divestitures, the ability to complete planned restructuring activities, physical risks, environmental risks, the ability to manage regulatory, tax and legal matters and resolve pending matters within current estimates, legislative, fiscal and regulatory developments, political, economic and social conditions in the geographic markets where the Group operates and new or changed priorities of the Boards. 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 the Group’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2010. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this document. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Group’s expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

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