Unilever holds sales target with tough markets ahead

Emerging markets expected to be challenging

Cans of Dove deodorant, produced by Unilever Photograph: Bloomberg

Cans of Dove deodorant, produced by Unilever Photograph: Bloomberg


Consumer goods maker Unilever left its full-year sales growth target range unchanged despite a strong first-quarter performance as it expects markets around the world to remain challenging.

The Anglo-Dutch maker of products ranging from Lipton tea to Dove soap said it expected emerging markets - where it gets more than half its sales - to become more difficult this year as economies in Latin American and Africa deal with the fallout from lower commodities prices and as growth elsewhere cools.

“We expected tougher markets and we’re finding tougher markets,” Unilever chief financial officer Graeme Pitkethly said

Meeting expectations

Excluding the impact of currency changes, Unilever’s underlying sales grew 4.7 per cent, in line with analyst expectations according to a company-supplied consensus and near the top end of its 3-5 per cent target for the full year.

The amount of goods sold by Unilever rose a better-than-expected 2.6 per cent in the period, though prices rose 2 per cent, which was below analyst expectations.

Turnover fell 2 per cent to €12.5 billion, hurt by weaker currencies in markets such as Brazil and Argentina.

Mr Pitkethly said Unilever was keeping its underlying sales growth target for 2016 at 3 to 5 per cent, with performance tempered by geopolitical uncertainty and economic volatility.