Home care products boost Unilever’s growth in 2019

Unilever has announced its 2019 results, showing sales growth of 2.9% led by its emerging market business, which grew 5.3%, and its home care division, which grew 6.1%.

According to the results, the company’s underlying sales grew 2.9% with 1.2% from volume and 1.6% from price. Its growth was largely due to a strong performance in the home care sector. Its emerging markets grew by 5.3%, driven by performance in Asia/AMET/RUB (Africa, Middle East, Turkey; Russia, UK, Belarus), despite a slow end to the year in West Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.

In the beauty and personal care division, Unilever’s underlying sales grew 2.6%, with 1.7 coming from volume and 0.95 from price. Deodorants delivered broad-based growth, which was supported by double-digit growth from Dove. The company saw ‘good performance’ from its Rexona Clinical range, with patented antiperspirant technology, as well as Dove’s zero-aluminium range.

In its home care division, Unilever saw underlying sales grow ‘strongly’, delivering 6.1% with 2.9% from volume and 3.1% from price. Home and hygiene performed well due to the company’s ‘cleaner choices’ products such as Cif surface sprays with natural cleaning ingredients.

“In 2019, we delivered underlying sales growth of 2.9%, balanced between price and volume, a further year of good margin and earnings progression, and strong free cash flow,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope.

“We saw strong growth from emerging markets and our home care division. Overall growth was slightly below our guided range for the year due to the slowdown we saw in the fourth quarter.

“We are now stepping up execution against our fundamental drivers of growth. These are to: increase penetration by improving brand awareness and availability, implement a more impactful innovation programme, improve our performance in faster growing channels, drive purpose into all our brands, and fuel growth through cost savings.

“We are continuing to evaluate our portfolio and have initiated a strategic review of our global tea business.

“In 2020, our underlying sales growth is expected to be in the lower half of the multi-year 3-5% range and will be second-half weighted. While we can expect an improvement from the fourth quarter of 2019 into the first half of 2020, first half underlying sales growth will be below 3%. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak is unknown at this time.

“As we near the completion of our three-year strategic plan, we expect continued improvement in underlying operating margin and another year of strong free cash flow, remaining on track for our 2020 goals.”

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