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Unilever makes a good start to 2014

Today, we released our results for the first quarter 2014. We delivered good growth ahead of our markets in a continued tough economic and competitive environment.

First quarter highlights

  • Underlying sales growth 3.6% with emerging markets up 6.6%

  • Underlying volume growth 1.9% and pricing up 1.6%

  • Turnover decreased 6.3% to €11.4 billion reflecting a negative currency impact of (8.9)%

  • Quarterly dividend up 6% to €0.285

Emerging markets grew 6.6%, with good contributions from both volume and price. In developed markets, North America had a slow start to the year whereas Europe held up well. We saw continued strong growth from Home Care, a robust performance in Beauty & Personal Care and an excellent start to the ice cream season in Europe. Foods & Refreshment performance was held back by the timing of Easter and weak markets.

Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Polman said: “We delivered good growth in the first quarter despite slowing markets and a tough competitive environment, further evidence that Unilever is now delivering consistently ahead of our markets.

“Emerging markets are currently passing through a period of slower demand and economic volatility but our strategy remains unchanged. We continue to invest in our brands so that they are well-placed to benefit from the significant longer term growth opportunity that will come from growing populations and higher disposable income.”

Personal Care

Personal Care grew ahead of our markets driven by a strong innovation programme. Deodorants performed well with the successful compressed aerosol format extended to new markets in Europe and the launch of the premium Advanced Care range for Dove in the US. In skin, the performance of Lux has stepped up, underpinned by a major relaunch in China and South East Asia. Dove Nutrium Moisture shower gels also continued to drive growth across our markets. Vaseline Spray & Go made good progress in existing markets and was extended to Australia.

In Hair, the Dove Advanced Hair Series was launched in the US and TRESemmé 7 Day Smooth, which offers salon-smooth hair for up to three washes, was introduced in the UK and the US. We also launched dry shampoos under the Elidor brand in Turkey. Capitalising on the growth of male Personal Care products, in oral we launched Signal White Now Men, our first toothpaste specifically designed for men.

Foods & Refreshment

The decline in Foods & Refreshment was largely explained by the later timing of Easter in 2014. We continued to see evidence that we are taking the right actions to deliver consistent growth ahead of our markets.

Despite the successful launches of great-tasting products like Rama with Butter in Germany, the decline of the margarine market remained a drag on our spreads growth but we are now gaining market share in margarine in both Europe and North America. Knorr cooking products did well and the successful jelly format was extended into seasonings through the introduction of Knorr Flavour Pots in the UK. Dressings’ performance was stable as Hellmann’s lapped the 100 year anniversary in the United States.

Home Care

Underlying sales growth was broad-based and volume-led, with a significant impact from our new product launches. In laundry, the new concentrated Small & Mighty liquid detergents with improved formulation and innovative packaging are now present in seven markets and a new ‘Eco’ refill pack has been introduced. In France, we launched Skip multi-action capsules, combining both liquid and powder technology in a single unit dose format to provide enhanced stain removal. Comfort Aromatherapy super-sensorials was extended into South Africa and Turkey.

Household cleaning growth outpaced the market. During the quarter we launched Cif direct application floor cleaner in Europe and Sun Ultimate, our best ever all-in-one dishwash tablets, in France. After successfully launching Domestos Turbo Fresh rotating rim blocks last year, we rolled them out to new countries in Europe. We saw continued good momentum from the recently launched Domestos and Cif in Brazil.

Refreshment

Strong growth in Refreshment was driven by ice cream in Brazil and Australia coupled with a very good start to the ice cream season in Europe. The ice cream innovation programme for 2014 includes products celebrating Magnum’s 25th birthday, Klondike Kandy bars and Breyers Gelato in the US, a new Carte D’Or Artisanal range in Europe and Cornetto with double topping and new flavours in China.

Tea growth accelerated in the US, helped by the success of Lipton K-Cups®. We also saw good growth in the UK as PG Tips launched a range of fruit, herbal and green teas. Elsewhere we saw good growth in South Asia, Egypt and Arabia but weaker sales in Russia and Poland. The decline of AdeS soy drinks reduced as we reached the anniversary of the product recall last year.

Go to the Investor Centre to read the full first quarter 2014 Trading Statement.

-ENDS-

Unilever PLC

Unilever House
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 207 822 5252
Press-Office.London@Unilever.com

Unilever NV

Weena 455
3013AL Rotterdam

www.unilever.nl

+31 (0) 10 217 4000
mediarelations.rotterdam@Unilever.com

Safe Harbour

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 '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 ethical standards; and managing regulatory, tax and legal matters. Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group's filings with the London Stock Exchange, NYSE Euronext in Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Group's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2013 and Annual Report and Accounts 2013. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this announcement. 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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