Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Unilever looks east and south for profits

Unilever has shown its growing reliance on the emerging markets of Asia and South America as falling sales in the struggling eurozone saw it miss City forecasts in its first quarter.

The consumer goods giant also blamed the extremely cold weather across much of Europe for a "slow start to the ice cream season", as sales of its Ben & Jerry's and Wall's brands were hit in the coldest March for more than 50 years.

Unilever, which makes Hellmann's mayonnaise and Dove shampoo, said its underlying revenue in Europe fell by 3.1% over the quarter to the end of March after consumers cut back on buying its products in these straitened times.

But a barnstorming performance in emerging markets helped to lift underlying sales by 4.9%, although this was significantly below City forecasts of 5.6% growth.

This miss dragged down its shares by 52p, or 1.9%, to 2792p.

Total turnover rose by just 0.2% to €12.2bn (£10.4bn), following a negative currency impact of 3.5%.