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Unilever reports sales growth as it battles 'tough market'

Caitlin Morrison
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Unilever owns several well-known brands, including Colman's mustard

Unilever has reported an uptick in sales during the third quarter of 2016, despite facing what it described as 'tough market conditions'.

Underlying sales grew by 3.2 per cent in the quarter, with price up 3.6 per cent and volume dipping by 0.4 per cent. On a constant exchange rate, sales were up by 3.4 per cent - but turnover at current rates decline 0.1 per cent.

Shares in the group dropped by 2.2 per cent in early trading.

"Our business continues to demonstrate its resilience by growing competitively and consistently in tough market conditions," said chief executive Paul Polman.

"During the third quarter, we have made further progress in reshaping our portfolio, adding businesses in fast-growing segments with the acquisitions of Dollar Shave Club, Blueair and Seventh Generation.

"With markets remaining soft and volatile, we have continued to transform our business at an accelerated pace. We are progressing well with the fast implementation of our change programmes: net revenue management, zero based budgeting and 'Connected 4 Growth', making our organisation more agile and responsive to market needs.

"These actions keep us on track for another year of volume growth ahead of our markets, steady improvement in core operating margin and strong cash flow."

The results come just one day after Tesco revealed it was running low on Unilever products - such as Marmite and PG Tips - after a row with the consumer goods giant over pricing.

"We are currently experiencing availability issues on a number of Unilever products. We hope to have this issue resolved soon," said a spokesperson for the supermarket.

Unilever, which also owns household brands Hellman's, Cif and Knorr, remained tight-lipped and declined to comment on the situation.

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