Unilever’s focus on emerging markets pays off

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal care division, Americas, United states

Unilever has announced a big rise in both net profit and turnover for the third quarter on the back of big gains from emerging markets and a solid performance from personal care.

Net profit increased by 21 per cent at current rates to €1.35bn, which translated to a 13 per cent increase at constant rates, taking into consideration the strength of the euro against many international currencies.

The company’s personal care division reported underlying sales growth up 4.5 per cent to €3.57bn, a figure driven by a particularly strong performance from the deodorant category.

Dove and Rexona lead the gains

On a brand basis, the personal care division also reported a strong performance from the Dove Men+Care range following its rollout in Europe, while the Rexona brand made significant gains in both Japan and India.

The hair care category registered gains on the back of a strong performance in the Americas from the Dove Damage Therapy launch, while the skin care category profited from the gains from the Dove brand.

The company also mentioned significant gains from worldwide Lifebuoy rollout, the Vaseline brand in emerging markets and the global expansion of the Signal White Now oral care product.

Volume growth key to success

“We have delivered another quarter of solid progress driven by our emerging markets business which again reported high levels of volume growth,”​ said CEO Paul Polman.

“Overall volume growth remained strong on the back of stronger innovations and the extension of our brands into new markets.”

In Asia, Africa and CEE, sales volumes were up 8.8 per cent to reach €4.60bn, whiles sales in the Latin America market significant volume growth helped to counteract lower growth in the North America market, which meant that sales volumes for the Americas region grew by 4.3 percent to €3.77bn.

Economic uncertainty leaves Europe behind

In Western Europe sales growth was the slowest of all the principle regions, with volumes up by 0.6 per cent to €3.18bn, reflecting particularly difficult trading conditions in Greece, Ireland and Spain.

For the first nine months of the year sales turnover increased by 10.9 per cent to €33.44bn, while net profit increased by 29 percent to $3.55bn.

Looking ahead, the company is expected to complete the acquisition of Sara Lee’s personal care business in the current quarter and is expecting to significantly increase its footprint with the acquisition of the Alberto Culver business during the course of 2011 - factors that will serve to boost its share of the global personal market considerably.

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