Beauty ops do well for Unilever in Q1 but most sales growth driven by price rises
Consumer products giant Unilever has reported results for the first quarter and said that underlying sales growth (USG) “accelerated to 10.5%, driven by progress against strategic priorities”.
Price growth “remained elevated at 10.7%”, with an improved quarter-on-quarter volume performance. Volumes fell only 0.2%, despite the higher prices.
Overall, turnover increased 7% to €14.8 billion and its “billion+ Euro brands”, accounting for 54% of group turnover, delivered underlying sales growth of 12.1%.
It also continued its portfolio reshaping during the period with the announced sale of the Suave brand in North America.
Looking at specific divisions during Q1, the two beauty-linked units that account for 44% of total sales did well.
The company said that Beauty & Wellbeing turnover rose 13.3%, year-on-year to €3.1 billion and was up 9.3% on an underlying basis. Meanwhile, Personal Care was up 12.6% to €3.4 billion and up 12.7% underlying.
Beauty & Wellbeing accounted for 21% of turnover during the quarter and of its 9.3% underlying sales growth, 6.5% came from higher prices and 2.6% from expanding volumes.
Within that, Hair Care grew across all regions, delivering high single-digit growth and also returned to positive volume growth, helped by the continued rollout of its Sunsilk relaunch. TRESemmé grew “strongly” and the new Clear Anti Hair Fall in China continued to perform well.
Core Skin Care delivered mid single-digit growth, driven by strong performances in South Asia and South East Asia that were partially offset by a double-digit decline in North Asia where sales of AHC dropped. Vaseline and Pond's saw double-digit growth, supported by “innovations with additional consumer benefits”, such as the premium Gluta-Hya skin serum.
Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing delivered another quarter of double-digit growth with “strong contributions from” Paula's Choice, Hourglass and Liquid IV.
For Personal Care, which accounted for 23% of sales, the underlying growth of 12.7% divided into 9.4% coming from higher prices and 3% from bigger volumes.
Growth was “broad-based” with strong uplifts in Latin America, South Asia, Europe and North America.
Within this division, Skin Cleansing grew in high single-digits driven by Latin America and South Asia. In the US, it launched its first Dove 24-hour Renewing Micromoisture body wash that claims to actively regenerate the skin's moisture. Power brand Lux grew in double-digits, "still benefiting from the relaunch of its bars, which provide a further improved skin care experience, delivering glow and flawless complexion”.
And Deodorants grew in high double-digits with particular strength in Europe and the Americas, “where volumes were boosted by a recovery in service levels and associated pipeline fill”.
Rexona “accelerated its strong performance, helped by our premium and superior 72-hour protection technology”. It also launched its Axe Fine Fragrance range that "combines odour protection with fine fragrances and freshness, contributing to double-digit growth for the brand”.
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