Star brands boost prof­its at Unilever

Daily Express - - CITY&BUSINESS - By Sabuhi Mir

CON­SUMER goods gi­ant Unilever re­ported a rise in third-quar­ter pre-tax prof­its buoyed by its everyday goods Flora mar­garine and Dove soap and treats such as Mag­num ice cream. Pre-tax prof­its were 5.64 bil­lion (£4.5bil­lion), a rise of 37 per cent. Un­der­ly­ing sales rose 8.3 per cent, lifted by cost-sav­ings pro­grammes and price in­creases.

A spokesman for the An­gloDutch com­pany said: “Peo­ple al­ways need to wash and eat.”

He added: “The com­pany’s growth has largely been seen in emerg­ing mar­kets rather than west­ern Europe and North Amer­ica.”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Pa­trick Cescau said: “This year we now ex­pect to de­liver un­der­ly­ing sales growth well in ex­cess of our long-term tar­get range of 3 to 5 per cent.”

He added: “We have strength­ened our busi­nesses in a tough en­vi­ron­ment. De­spite the price rises needed in the light of un­prece­dented cost in­creases, our vol­umes are hold­ing up.”

An­a­lysts re­main con­cerned about Unilever’s mar­ket­ing strat­egy and trad­ing in west­ern Europe, its big­gest mar­ket.

Unilever has strug­gled to match Euro­pean food ri­vals Nestlé and Danone’s 2008 sales tar­gets of 8 per cent and be­tween 8 per cent and 10 per cent.

Unilever said price in­creases and cost sav­ings meant it had more than off­set com­mod­ity cost in­creases of al­most 2bil­lion in the first nine months of the year.

Its other brands in­clude Sun­silk sham­poo, Knorr soups and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

An­a­lyst Gra­ham Jones at Pan­mure Gor­don said con­sumers had bought Unilever brands, de­spite steep food inflation.

He added: “Peo­ple should see an end to steep food inflation by 2009 on some prod­ucts.

The shares were down 7p to 1336p.

TREAT: Eva Lon­go­ria helps to sell Mag­num

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