Monday, 22 April, 2019

Unilever sees 2019 remaining ‘challenging’ with slower sales growth

Model Bella Hadid has become the face of Unilever's Magnum ice cream Model Bella Hadid is the face of Unilever's Magnum ice cream
Russell Knight | 03 February, 2019, 12:42

However, the company pointed to the tough market setting throughout the previous year, particularly currency devaluations and increasing commodity costs that weighed on demand.

Unilever on January 31 reported underlying sales growth of 2.9 percent for the fourth quarter, below the 3.5 percent implied by analysts' forecasts provided by the company.

Shares in Unilever (LON:ULVR) have fallen deep into the red in London this morning as the consumer goods giant warned that sales growth this year was likely to be at the lower end of its multi-year guidance. In the fourth quarter, underlying sales rose just 2.9%, compared with the 3.5% analysts were generally expecting.

Jope said: "Looking forward, accelerating growth will be our number one priority".

Analysts had expected better sales figures and Unilever shares were down 1.85 percent to 46.48 euros near the close of trade on Thursday. The company, which a year ago scrapped plans to abandon its London headquarters, further warned that market conditions were likely to remain challenging.

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Polman resigned a few months afterwards and was replaced by Jope.

He maintained that Unilever is on track for its 2020 goals.

In the fourth quarter, Unilever blamed Argentina, which makes up 2.5 per cent of its overall business, for hyperinflation that led prices to spike more than 50 per cent and therefore volume to fall more than 20 per cent in the quarter. "The deterioration in the conditions for consumers in Argentina resulted in a full year underlying volume decline of -10 per cent, which had a -30bps impact on Unilever volume growth", the company reported. The same happened in Europe, though the company eked out 0.8 percent sales growth in the region.

Full year sales growth was 3.1 per cent, excluding the spreads business it sold last year, with annual turnover €49.6bn (£43.4bn), a five per cent decrease on 2017.

Despite last year's exacting market conditions, the compounding star turn's enviable portfolio of global brands and emerging markets presence helped Unilever shrug off sluggish, ultra-competitive developed markets.

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