Unilever profits from emerging market growth

Kasmira Jefford
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O-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever said yesterday full-year sales exceeded €50bn (£42bn) for the first time thanks to strong demand for its soaps and hair products in emerging markets.

The owner of PG Tips, Persil and Cif Cleaning brands yesterday said pre-tax profit rose seven per cent in 2012 to €6.68bn on sales up 10.5 per cent to €51.3bn.

Underlying sales in emerging markets such as India, China and Brazil grew by 11.4 per cent and now make up around 55 per cent of turnover.

The company said Magnum ice-cream and Sunsilk shampoo both became €1bn brands in its portfolio, meaning that Unilever now has 14 brands in this category.

Unilever has been focusing on growing its personal care products, which are more popular in regions like Latin America and Asia. Sales of these products rose 10 per cent in the period.

This helped offset sluggish growth at its food division – particularly spreads such as Flora – with underlying sales up just 1.8 per cent in the quarter, due to its exposure to more developed markets.

Chief executive Paul Pollman said: “Markets will remain challenging, with intense competition and volatile commodity costs. We remain focused on achieving another year of profitable volume growth ahead of our markets.”