THE WHAT? Unilever has announced its results for the first quarter of fiscal 2021. The UK-based FMCG giant saw sales increase 5.7 percent versus the same period in 2020, although turnover decreased 0.9 percent, attributed to a negative currency-related impact of 8 percent.
THE DETAILS The Beauty & Personal Care unit saw underlying sales inch up 2.3 percent, Unilever said, with skin cleansing, skin care and hair care all growing in the mid-single digits. Prestige was the star performer with a strong double digit increase, helped by the gradual reopening and restocking of brick and mortar stores in the US.
In terms of geographies, Asia was the strongest performer, with sales up 9.9 percent while the Americas saw an uplift of 5.3 percent and Europe a drop of 2.3 percent.
THE WHY? CEO Alan Jope said in a statement, “Unilever has made a good start to the year. Our focus on operational excellence, innovation, and purposeful brands is continuing to strengthen competitiveness and has delivered underlying sales growth of 5.7% for the quarter. We are driving the evolution of our portfolio, with strong growth in Prestige Beauty and Functional Nutrition. The operational separation of our Tea business is on track. We are also making good progress in creating a new unit, Elida Beauty, comprising a number of our smaller beauty and personal care brands.
“We are confident that we will deliver underlying sales growth in 2021 within our multi-year framework of 3-5%, with the first half around the top of this range. We expect to increase underlying operating margin slightly for the full year, though with a decline in the first half driven by Covid-19 impacts, higher cost inflation and increased marketing spend over the prior year. Following another year of strong cash flow delivery, Unilever’s Board has approved a share buyback programme of up to €3 billion.
“We are committed to delivering superior long-term financial performance through our sustainable business model, which we believe has never been more relevant than it is today.”