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For fiscal 2008, Unilever posted broad-based growth of 7.4% across categories (on sales of €40,523 million) in line with its markets overall and driven by increased prices—combined with an underlying improvement in operating margin. Its personal care business posted sales of €11,383 million, a 6.6% increase.
“We achieved top line growth ahead of our target range, and, faced with unprecedented input cost pressures, protected profit by early pricing action and savings programs," said Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever. "The changes made during the past few years have strengthened the business and leave us well placed to meet the challenges ahead. While we have been more or less holding value share, our priority will be to focus first and foremost on volume growth. At the same time we will protect cash and margins, driving our savings programs even harder. By doing this we expect to emerge from the current conditions stronger and more competitive than ever. Given the current economic uncertainty, I believe it would be inappropriate at this stage to provide an outlook specifically for 2009 or to reaffirm the 2010 targets. That said, I am confident in the underlying strength of the business and over the longer term expect that we will deliver very competitive levels of growth and margin improvement.”