Unilever has announced its results for the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Overall, the company reported underlying sales growth of 3.7 percent (excluding spreads) meeting expectations with an ‘encouraging shift’ to volume-led growth. Emerging markets were the star of the show, increasing by 5.1 percent compared to 1.1 percent in developed markets. However, turnover was down 5.2 percent to €12.6 billion.
In the beauty and personal care division, skin cleansing was the star with new premium formats proving popular, particularly the sensorial aerosol mousse launched across five brands in Europe and Dove body polish in the US.
“The first quarter demonstrates another good volume-driven performance across all three divisions,” said CEO Paul Polman. “The broad-based growth, including over 4 percent volume growth in emerging markets, shows that the ‘Connected 4 Growth’ program is working and enhancing our long-term compounding growth model. We are further improving the quality and speed of our global and local innovation as a result of a more agile, consumer-facing organization. At the same time, we are maintaining strong delivery from our savings programs and expecting to complete the exit from spreads in the middle of the year.
“For the full year, we continue to expect underlying sales growth in the 3 percent– 5 percent range and an improvement in underlying operating margin and cash flow that keep us on track for our 2020 goals. We intend to start a share buy-back program of up to €6 billion in May to return the expected after-tax proceeds from the spreads disposal. We are raising the dividend by 8 percent, reflecting confidence in our outlook.”