Unilever reports good growth in third quarter 2012

Today (25 October), Unilever released its results for the third quarter 2012. Once again, good quality growth, with volumes ahead of our markets, shows that Unilever’s transformation to a sustainable growth company is well on track and is being embedded deeply in the business.

Third quarter highlights

  • Turnover increased by 10.3% to €13.4 billion with a positive impact of 4.1% from FX and 0.1% from M&A

  • Underlying sales growth 5.9% with emerging markets up 12.1%

  • Underlying volume growth 3.4% ahead of our markets; pricing up 2.4%

Nine months highlights

  • Turnover increased by 11.1% to €38.8 billion with a positive impact of 2.6% from FX and 1.5% from M&A

  • Underlying sales growth 6.6% with emerging markets up 11.7%

  • Underlying volume growth 3.0% ahead of our markets; pricing up 3.5%

Despite continued high levels of competitive intensity, depressed economies and increasing global imbalances and uncertainty, we saw solid growth with a good balance between volume and price. Our emerging markets businesses delivered another quarter of double-digit growth, taking year to date growth to 11.7%. Developed markets declined in the quarter but are up 0.8% year to date.

Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Polman said: “The Compass strategy and the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan are driving aligned actions across the business. We are seeing a steady improvement in the quality of our innovation, meeting the needs of consumers wherever they are. The organisational structure that we announced last year is already paying off and we are seeing benefits in terms of our agility and discipline in operational execution.”

Beauty & Personal Care

Hair performance reflected the success of a strong programme of activities across the brands. TREsemmé did well in its traditional markets, made strong headway in Brazil and has recently been launched in Indonesia and India. The Clear launch in the US is performing well and the brand is also making inroads into other new markets such as Australia. Dove Damage Therapy continues to drive growth across many markets and Dove Men+Care hair was launched in Brazil. Axe hair has established a good platform in Europe and was launched in Turkey.

Deodorants grew ahead of our markets with a broad-based, good performance across the key brands and geographies. Dove continued to deliver strong growth and Rexona was underpinned by the extension of the MotionSense technology to Rexona for Men. Axe benefited from strong digital campaigns and Axe Anarchy continues to do well.

Dove continues to drive skin cleansing growth with the continuing success of Dove Nutrium Moisture and Dove Men+Care. Lifebuoy is progressing well driven by the ‘10 seconds germ-removal’ hand wash campaign supporting the launch of Lifebuoy Clini-Care 10 in India and South Africa. Both Radox and Duschdas, brands acquired from Sara Lee, are performing well. In skin care, Vaseline Daily Care Total Moisture maintained good momentum whilst a Dove Men+Care face range was launched in the UK. The acquired Kalina brands in Russia performed strongly.

Oral improved its growth rate in the third quarter driven by the roll-out of Expert Protection in Signal/Pepsodent, and ‘3x fresher breath’ proposition for Close Up. Pepsodent 123 was launched in Indonesia and Vietnam and we launched Pepsodent in South Africa.


Overall Foods growth was slightly negative. Knorr jelly bouillon continues to do well in savoury, with the recent extension to markets such as Australia and Russia and the introduction of new variants such as Herbs & Spices in Germany and Borsch Soup in Russia. Knorr baking bags have gained share in most key countries. During the third quarter we launched our first soup made from 100% sustainable tomatoes in France.

Spreads volumes suffered from high relative pricing in key markets but we have already taken action in some markets to ensure that our prices are competitive and our volume market shares are improving as a result. Liquid margarines continue to do well and Becel Gold, a premium variant offering a healthy spread with a great creamy taste was launched in Europe. Hellmann’s mayonnaise is progressing well driven by the campaign to inspire new uses of mayonnaise and the 50th anniversary campaign in Brazil.

Home Care

Strong growth in laundry reflected volume growth ahead of our markets. This includes the impact of improved product formulations, sustained innovation delivery and effective brand communication. New Omo offering fast stain removal has now been rolled out to more than 20 markets and is performing well. Surf growth was driven by improved fragrances and its value for money positioning. Comfort is building on the success of recent launches in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa whilst Comfort Anti-Bacterial was launched in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Household cleaners delivered double-digit growth driven by a strong Sunlight hand dishwash performance in South and South East Asia supported by the improved degreasing formulation. Domestos continued to deliver robust growth benefiting from the launches in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Argentina, the successful Toilet System advertising in Europe and the joint promotion with UNICEF to improve access to sanitation across nine countries. Cif Power Naturals was launched in Turkey and Cif Cream pouches were introduced in South East Asia to provide Cif cleaning performance at an affordable unit price.


Ice cream delivered strong growth, with positive volume and price. Magnum growth accelerated as the brand was successfully launched in the Philippines and Malaysia and it continues to do well in the US and Indonesia. Magnum Infinity has been rolled out across Europe, Turkey, Mexico and Australia. Cornetto also had a good quarter, driven by growth in Asia, and Ben & Jerry’s benefited from the Greek Frozen Yogurt launch in North America and Core Concoctions in Europe.

Beverages growth improved in the third quarter but still lags market growth. Lipton delivered double-digit growth in the Middle East and the relaunch of Lipton Yellow Label in Russia with improved taste is doing well and is now being rolled out to Poland. Growth in India was underpinned by a strong performance of Brooke Bond. Ades soy-based drinks continued to make good progress in Latin America with successful new flavours supported by impactful advertising.

Go to the Investor Centre to read the full third quarter 2012 Trading Statement. Find out more on Unilever in the About Us and Brands in Action sections of this website.

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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