Unilever gains 1Q sales turnaround, boosts brand investment

Unilever’s first quarter 2015 sales have exceeded expectations as turnover rose 12.3% to 12.8 billion euros, with underlying sales growth broad-based across the four categories of Foods, Home Care, Personal Care and Refreshment.

The results included a positive currency impact of 10.6%, underlying sales growth at 2.8% and underlying volume growth at 0.9% and pricing up 1.9%.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: ‘We have had a strong start to the year, helped by favourable currency movements and an improvement in underlying sales. This is despite a continued challenging trading environment in many parts of the world.

‘We have further strengthened the innovation pipeline and are increasing investment behind the core of our brands, as well as extending into premium segments and new markets.’

Unilever expects that its initiatives will deliver a further improvement in volume growth in the remainder of the year.

In Personal Care, deodorants performed well, supported by newly introduced dry sprays in North America and the launch of the Axe Black variants. Dove saw continued success of its Advanced Hair series and TRESemme aunched the Perfectly (Un)done collection in the US.

In Foods, savoury was helped by the success of cooking ingredients in emerging markets and soups in Europe and the company is introducing more natural and healthier products.

Unilever’s biggest brand, Knorr, launched its ‘Flavour of Home’ campaign, Hellmann’s drove salad dressings growth with the North American rollout of squeezy packaging, while spreads performance improved in the quarter.

Refreshment had a solid start driven by innovations behind premium ice cream brands, such as Magnum Pink and Black variants. Leaf tea growth was underpinned by Lipton’s new packaging and communication.

In Home Care, the strong performance of fabric conditioners was led by the launch of Comfort Intense, a premium super-concentrated product.

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