Sales for the quarter grew 3.6%, with Europe holding up well, and a slow start in North America. Emerging markets grew 6.6% but Unilever says it suffered from the devaluation of emerging-market currencies in the past year, reducing the value of its sales.
“We delivered good growth in the first quarter despite slowing markets and a tough competitive environment, further evidence that Unilever is now delivering consistently ahead of our markets,” says CEO Paul Polman.
“Emerging markets are currently passing through a period of slower demand and economic volatility but our strategy remains unchanged. We continue to invest in our brands so that they are well-placed to benefit from the significant longer term growth opportunity that will come from growing populations and higher disposable income.”
Personal Care growth
While Unilever’s Food performance was hardly a highlight due to a late Easter, the Personal Care business grew ahead of markets driven by a strong innovation programme, says the Axe brand owner.
Deodorants themselves performed well with the successful compressed aerosol format extended to new markets in Europe and the launch of the premium Advanced Care range for Dove in the US.
In skin, the performance of Lux has stepped up, underpinned by a major relaunch in China and South East Asia.
Dove Nutrium Moisture shower gels also continued to drive growth across markets, and Vaseline Spray & Go made good progress in existing markets and was extended to Australia.
In hair, the Dove Advanced Hair Series was launched in the US and TRESemmé 7 Day Smooth was introduced in the UK and the US.
Unilever also launched dry shampoos under the Elidor brand in Turkey, and in Oral, launched Signal White Now Men, aiming to capitalising on the growth of male Personal Care product aimed at men.