Unilever sales disappoint as emerging markets growth slows

Suzie Neuwirth

CONSUMER goods giant Unilever today posted underlying sales growth of five per cent in the second quarter of the year, falling short of forecasts, due to a slowdown in emerging markets.

Emerging markets grew at 10.3 per cent, slightly down on 10.4 per cent in the previous quarter, while developed markets fell 1.3 per cent.

“Growth is slowing in emerging markets, as macro-economic headwinds influence consumer behaviour,” the Anglo-Dutch company said.

“Developed markets remain sluggish with little sign of any recovery in North America or Europe.”

However, the firm posted a 14 per cent rise in half-year profits to £3.66bn, due to a strong performance in its home care and personal care division.

The firm also saw improvement in is food and refreshment categories, with strong growth in the Middle East and Turkey from the re-launched Lipton Yellow Label tea brand.

“The tougher economic environment and reinvigorated competition require us to set the bar higher on innovation and to increase investment behind our brands,” said chief executive Paul Polman. At the same time we need to continue to take costs out of the system to help finance this investment.”