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Unilever posted sales of €12.1 billion in the third quarter of 2011 and €34.9 billion at nine months, with underlying sales growth of 7.8% in the third quarter and 6.5% at nine months and underlying volume growth at 1.9% in the third quarter and 2.1% at nine months. Emerging markets were up 13.1% in the third quarter and strong growth was reported across all categories, in particular personal care at 11.3%.
“I am pleased to report another good quarterly performance, with particularly strong growth in personal care and the emerging markets, reinforcing our position as the emerging markets consumer goods company," said Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever. "Growth was strong across all categories and helped by technology-based innovation, now routinely rolled out quickly to multiple markets. In addition we are increasingly driving the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan as an integral part of the way we do business.”
The company’s personal care division delivered the strongest nine month underlying sales growth at 7.5%. Regionally, the Asia Africa CEE region saw third quarter underlying sales growth at 12.4%, with underlying volume growth at 5%. The region delivered strong growth ahead of the market, powered by China, India, Indonesia and Turkey.
In the Americas, third quarter underlying sales growth was 9.1% with underlying volume growth at 2.1%. Growth in North America was flattered by the impact of the sales brought forward prior to the major SAP upgrade, which took place at the end of the quarter. Adjusting for this impact, underlying sales growth was low single digit with positive price offset by negative volumes. Growth in Latin America accelerated to more than 10%, driven by price but also reflecting robust volume growth.
For Western Europe, third quarter underlying sales growth was -0.5% with underlying volume growth at -2.9%. Despite the weak state of many European economies, market share performance was robust both in volume and value terms. France and the UK continued to perform well in terms of growth and market share. However conditions in southern Europe remained depressed.