Strong start to 2015, helped by currencies

London/Rotterdam – Today, Unilever announced its results for the first quarter of 2015.

  • Turnover increased 12.3% to €12.8 billion including a positive currency impact of 10.6%

  • Underlying sales growth at 2.8% with emerging markets up 5.4%

  • Underlying volume growth at 0.9% and pricing up 1.9%

Commenting on the results, Unilever CEO Paul Polman says: “We have had a strong start to the year, helped by favourable currency movements and an improvement in underlying sales. This is despite a continued challenging trading environment in many parts of the world. The actions we have been taking to put us on track for higher levels of growth are starting to pay off.

“Despite high levels of currency and commodity volatility, we are now starting to see more tailwinds than headwinds in our markets, and expect our initiatives to deliver a further improvement in volume growth in the remainder of the year.”

Our markets

While Europe markets remain weak, the modest price-driven pick-up in North America has been sustained. Emerging markets have seen divergent trends. There has been some improvement in India and more stable conditions in China, but a deterioration in Brazil and Russia.

Unilever performance

Underlying sales growth was broad-based across the four divisions with varying contributions from volume and price. Emerging markets grew by 5.4%, largely driven by price. In developed markets, North America again grew while in Europe volume improved strongly but pricing was down across all divisions.

Beauty & Personal Care

Beauty & Personal Care growth improved but remains below historic levels in competitive markets. We have a strong innovation pipeline and are confident that we will see an acceleration in the second half of the year.

Deodorants performed well, supported by the newly introduced dry sprays in North America and the launch of the new Axe Black variants. In hair Dove saw continued success of its Advanced Hair series and TRESemmé launched the Perfectly (Un)done collection in the US. In France, we are introducing Zendium, a premium toothpaste that boosts the mouth’s natural defences. And in March we announced the acquisition of the iconic REN Skincare brand.

Foods & Refreshment

Good volume-driven growth included strong sales in the run up to Easter which was earlier than last year. Savoury performed well, helped by the success of cooking ingredients in emerging markets and soups in Europe. We are introducing more natural and healthier products such as our new bouillon cubes in Indonesia.

Our biggest brand, Knorr, launched its ‘Flavour of Home’ campaign, which celebrates the role that flavour plays in the brand, attracting over 40 million views in the first week. Hellmann’s drove growth in dressings as we rolled out the successful squeezy packaging into North America.

Spreads performance improved in the quarter, helped by the earlier Easter and good growth in emerging markets but with a continued drag from market contraction in the US and Europe.


A solid start to the year on top of a strong comparator was driven by innovations behind our premium ice cream brands, such as Magnum Pink and Black variants, Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core range in Europe as well as new flavours of Breyers Gelato in the US. At the same time, we are addressing the value segment with the launch of Cornetto Mini in India and the €1 Cornetto in a number of countries.

Leaf tea growth was underpinned by Lipton’s new packaging and communication, and we are building the green tea segment with new variants in India, Russia and the Middle East.

Home Care

Growth in Home Care was broad-based. Having established strong top-line momentum in recent years, laundry growth in the first quarter was lower as we balanced market share gain and profitability. While Omo launched new products with enhanced cleaning technology in Brazil and Vietnam, the brand continues to grow well in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, and with the new pre-treaters in Brazil.

The strong performance of fabric conditioners was led by the launch of Comfort Intense, a premium super-concentrated product that delivers long-lasting freshness. In household cleaning we took Cif’s improved ‘Power and Shine’ formulation from the UK to continental Europe.

Unilever PLC

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100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY
United Kingdom

Unilever NV

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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 'will', 'aim', 'expects', 'anticipates', 'intends', '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 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; increasing competitive pressures; Unilever's investment choices in its portfolio management; finding 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; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; successful execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic and political risks and national disasters; the sovereign debt crisis in Europe; financial risks; and failure to meet high product safety and ethical standards; 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, 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 2011 and the Annual Report and Accounts 2011. 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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