Unilever beauty ops perform well on price rises rather than volume growth
Unilever reported its full-year 2022 results on Thursday with the global consumer products giant saying it “carefully balanced price growth, volume and competitiveness to navigate through the high cost inflation environment”.
Underlying sales growth for the company as a whole was 9% with turnover up 14.5% to €60.1 billion. Underlying operating profit rose 0.5% to €9.7 billion, with reported operating profit up 23.6% at €10.8 billion. Net profit for the year rose 24.9% to €8.3 billion. The company also said that turnover in the fourth quarter was up 11.4% at €14.6 billion.
It added that “we will again deliver strong underlying sales growth in 2023, with improving volume performance and competitiveness as the year progresses. We will continue to price and drive our cost savings programmes, in order to allow us to invest behind our brands and deliver improved margin”.
The company owns a huge portfolio of consumer products, across beauty, personal care, food and home care.
Looking specifically at beauty and personal care, the performances were largely driven by the group’s ability to raise prices with volumes suffering too much.
Its Beauty & Wellbeing unit represents 20% of turnover and full-year underlying sales growth was 7.8% to €12.3 billion while total turnover rose 20.8%. In the fourth quarter underlying sales growth was 7.7% to €3.2 billion with total turnover up 19%.
The company said the 7.8% annual sales rise was made up of 7.5% from price and 0.3% from volume. Growth was price-led in core Skin Care and Hair Care, although it was volume-led in Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing.
Hair Care grew in mid-single-digits, helped by strong performances of Sunsilk and Nexxus. Growth was driven by Latin America, India and Turkey, partially offset by Europe and China where sales were affected by pandemic-related restrictions.
Skin Care grew in low-single-digits. South Asia and South East Asia delivered strong growth, helped by Lifebuoy and the rollout of the Vaseline premium Gluta-Hya innovation, while sales of AHC declined in North Asia.
Prestige Beauty delivered another year of double-digit growth, with strong contributions from Paula's Choice and Hourglass, which continued its expansion into China, as well as Living Proof, which entered into the bond-building premium hair care category. Liquid IV and Olly drove strong double-digit growth in Health & Wellbeing. The acquisition of Nutrafol hair wellness was completed in July.
In Personal Care, which accounts for 23% of group turnover, underlying sales growth for the year was 7.9% with sales reaching €13.6 billion. And in the fourth quarter it was 9.1% as sales rose to €3.5 billion.
But the underlying operating margin declined 340bps due to input cost increases and the biggest step-up in brand and marketing investment across its divisions.
The annual sales rise was made up of 12.1% from price and a 3.7% fall in volume. The volume decline was higher in Skin Cleansing which was particularly affected by the commodity cost inflation.
Deodorants performed strongly, delivering double-digit price and positive volume growth. This was supported by continued tech and strong innovations, such as 72-hour protection technology from Rexona.
Skin Cleansing grew in high-single-digits with strong price increases in response to input cost inflation. While this meant a volume decline, volumes held up btter in North America, supported by innovations such as the Dove deep moisture body wash with microbiome nutrient serum. Sales of Dollar Shave Club declined during the year, and the company announced an impairment charge related to the business.
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