Unilever to accelerate growth as targets met

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Unilever to accelerate growth as targets met


Unilever is on track to meet its performance goals this year after strong sales in emerging markets
Unilever is on track to meet its performance goals this year after strong sales in emerging markets

Consumer goods group Unilever is on track to meet its performance goals this year after strong sales in emerging markets led to a better-than-expected start to 2019.

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream said on Thursday it still expects underlying sales growth in the lower half of a 3 to 5pc range this year. It also stood by its 2020 targets, which include reaching an underlying operating margin of 20pc.

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First quarter underlying sales, excluding acquisitions, disposals and currency moves, rose 3.1 percent. Analysts on average were expecting a 2.8pc rise, according to a company-supplied consensus.

Growth was balanced, with a 1.9pc contribution from higher prices, which is less than analysts expected, and 1.2pc from volume gains, which is more than expected.

Emerging markets, where Unilever generates 58pc of its sales, grew 5pc in the quarter, offsetting a mere 0.3pc gain in developed markets, which were hurt by economic uncertainty and intense price competition in Europe, particularly in Germany and France.

In January, Unilever Chief Executive Alan Jope revealed the company was stockpiling ‘weeks of inventory’ in the UK, anticipating supply-chain disruption from Brexit. Those fears are now at least postponed.

“This has been a solid start to 2019… which puts us on track for the guidance that we’ve given for the full year,” said Jope. “We will be focusing on accelerating growth as our No. 1 priority.”

Reuters

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Irish Independent

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