Unilever product innovation drives underlying sales growth in 'tougher' environment

Unilever boss Paul Polman says the company is maintaining momentum "despite a tougher external environment" as the FMCG giant revealed a 4.7% rise in underlying sales.

Unilever's Lynx ad
Unilever's Lynx ad

The sales growth for the first quarter of 2016 was however offset by the strength of the Euro, which resulted in turnover declining 2% to €12.5 billion.

Polman said: "The first quarter demonstrates a strong volume-driven performance, following on from a good delivery in 2015.

"We are maintaining momentum despite a tougher external environment, with all four categories gaining market share. This broad-based growth, including 8% in emerging markets, shows the validity of our strategy, active portfolio management and a step-up in innovation."

The four categories, which all recorded growth, include personal care, foods, home care and refreshment.

Unilever added that consumer demand "remained fragile" as market growth was "weak in emerging markets, negligible in North America and negative in Europe". 

Personal care was the strongest performing category as it grew above the group average following innovations in its core brands and an extension into more premium segments.

Deodorants performed strongly, supported by new variants of dry sprays in North America and the the roll-out of Rexona Antibacterial.

The launch of the TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume range also helped drive Unilever’s first quarter performance.