Unilever Q3 improves, upscale beauty does well
Unilever had upbeat news on Thursday. Despite currency effects sending its turnover down overall, it released Q3 figures that showed underlying sales growth (USG) of 4.4%. Turnover dropped 2.4% to €12.9 billion at the Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant due to those currency exchange effects.
But the Dove owner said it saw 3.9% volume growth and 0.5% price growth with emerging markets strongest overall (up 5.3%) and developed markets rising a smaller, but still good, 3.1%.
Its biggest division, beauty and personal care, saw turnover of €5.3 billion. This was up 3.8% on a USG basis with 3.5% from volume and 0.4% from price.
Demand for hand hygiene products “remained high, albeit slightly below levels seen in the second quarter”. It meant skin cleansing delivered underlying sales growth of 19.9%. This was supported by innovations including Dove's entry into the antibacterial segment, and the extension of Lifebuoy into new formats and channels across several European markets.
But its skincare ops declined in high-single-digits and deodorants were down in low-single-digits. Both categories were hurt by “restricted living conditions, although improved compared to the second quarter as many countries eased lockdowns”.
Its Hair unit grew overall, as a decline in styling (perhaps linked to fewer consumers going out to work or to socialise) was offset by growth in wash and care products as they pampered their hair at home instead.
And there was good news for its Prestige business that “grew as the health and beauty channel reopened, although footfall remained subdued”. The company has been expanding in prestige beauty I’m recent years and this growth is a sign that its strategy is the right one.
CEO Alan Jope called it “a strong performance” but said the environment it’s operating in “will remain unpredictable in the near term, so we will continue to maintain the speed and agility of our response. Our focus remains volume-led competitive growth, delivering absolute profit and free cash flow.”
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