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Unilever released its results for the first quarter 2013, reflecting maintenance of good growth momentum in the quarter despite challenging economies and the tough competitive environment. Underlying sales growth was 4.9%, with emerging markets up 10.4%, while underlying volume growth increased 2.2% with pricing up 2.6%. And turnover increased 0.2% to €12.2 billion including a negative currency impact of -3.5%.
Growth remained solid in emerging markets despite the continuing macro-economic headwinds, while developed markets remained sluggish. In this context, Unilever delivered another quarter of good growth led by emerging markets which grew by 10.4% with a good balance between volume and price. Developed markets declined in the quarter against a high prior year comparator.
Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Polman said, “This performance is further evidence that Unilever is becoming fit to win and capable of delivering consistent growth ahead of our markets. Our strategy is working. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is becoming embedded across the business and increasingly driving our day-to-day decisions and actions, helping to drive increased sales whilst reducing costs and risks. Brands like Lifebuoy, Dove, Domestos, Knorr and Signal that have made sustainability central to their brand proposition continue to perform well.”
For Unilever’s personal care division, growth in hair care was underpinned by a strong innovation program and the continued introduction of its brands into new markets. For Dove, the successful Dove Damage Therapy range, the extension of the Dove Men+Care hair range and the launch of Dove hair products in Mexico continued to drive growth. TreSemmé continued to make excellent progress, building on last year’s success in Brazil, and the company saw a good early response to the launches in India and Indonesia. Clear continued to make good progress in the highly competitive U.S. market and delivered strong growth in the emerging markets. Toni&Guy is now present in 17 countries, and Unilever successfully launched the Nexxus Youth Renewal range in the U.S.
Skin cleansing and care enjoyed good growth driven by innovation across the brands and geographies. Lifebuoy benefited from market development activities to encourage hand washing. Lifebuoy Clini-care 10 was extended to Indonesia, Ghana and Kenya, and Dove performance reflected the continuing success of Dove Nutrium Moisture shower gels and the growth of Dove Men+Care, including the launch of a range of male face products in Europe and North America. Innovations under the Vaseline brand included the Spray & Go moisturizer in North America and a new range of facial washes in Southeast Asia. In face care, activities include the launch of Pond’s Flawless White BB+ and the extension of Axe to male face care in North America.
Deodorants started the year particularly strongly, powered by the success of the Axe Apollo launch which has been supported by both traditional and digital media in 60 countries and 45 languages. Rexona is making good progress assisted by the ‘Do: More’ campaign which integrates the new Lotus F1 Team variant. Dove remains a key growth driver through the success of Dove Men+Care deodorants and the Dove Maximum Protection range. Also, despite heightened competition, the company saw better growth in oral care driven by its strong program of product innovation. Signal Expert Protection continues to make excellent progress. Close-Up 3 times fresher breath has been rolled out to more than 40 markets and White Now Triple Gold has been launched in China and Europe.