Personal care sales for the second quarter came in at €3.57bn for personal care, a 7.8 per cent increase on the same period last year. This compares favourably to sales growth for the company overall during the quarter which stood at 3.6 per cent when compared to last year, with sales coming in at €11.75bn.
Earnings per share for the period were €0.36, 38 per cent higher than the same quarter last year. While the company did admit, that this percentage benefits from low comparison figures, it also said lower restructuring charges, improved underlying operating profit and lower pension costs helped boost this figure.
Deodorants drive personal care
The growth in personal care was driven mainly by deodorants, according to the company, including Degree in the US, Dove in Brazil and the relaunch of Rexona in Japan.
In addition, the early success of the Dove Nutrium moisture range and the launch of the bar soaps in the Citra range, drove skin cleansing sales for the company.
According to Unilever, its Vaseline Sheer Infusions did not perform as well as expected but this did not stop the hand and body cream segment from continuing to grow.
CEO Paul Polman said the performance of the segment had been consistently strong, which led it to overtake in the quarter the savoury, snacks and dressings division.
Innovation is the driving force
According to Polman, it is innovation that is driving much of the company’s success
“… I am encouraged by the progress we are making after many years of under-investment in our brands. In the many markets I have visited this year I have seen plenty of evidence of how our innovation is getting bigger, better and faster,” he said.
“The proportion of our turnover coming from products launched in the last two years is up to a new high of 33 per cent, compared with far lower levels at the end of 2008 when our innovation was less impactful,” he added, during a results presentation.
Looking to the future, Polman said the company did not expect competitive pressures to ease, and it would continue to operate under the assumption of slower economic growth, particulary in the developed markets.
In addition, he noted that while commodity costs are expected to rise in the second half of the year the company’s ability to raise prices would remain constrained.