Consumer Division Sales Increase at Beiersdorf

BERLIN — Sales volume of Beiersdorf’s cash cow, Nivea, increased 4.4 percent on a currency-adjusted basis to 2.73 billion euros, or $3.57 billion at average exchange, in 2004, the Hamburg-based group said at its annual consumer division press conference on Tuesday.

Overall, Beiersdorf’s branded consumer division grew sales 2.7 percent to 3.84 billion euros, or $5.02 billion. At constant exchange rates, divisional sales rose 4.3 percent. The consumer division generates about 84 percent of group turnover and includes skin care brands Nivea, Eucerin, La Prairie, Juvena, Marlies Möller, Labello, Florena and others. It also includes bandages under the Hansaplast, Curad, Curitas and Elastoplast names.

Appearing for the last time as Beiersdorf’s board member in charge of the consumer division, Uwe Wölfer, who will retire March 31, underscored the continued success of Beiersdorf’s umbrella brand strategy, especially with regard to Nivea. The brand now holds 183 market-leader positions out of a total of 650 possible number one slots, up from 173 in 2003.

“No other brand holds so many number one positions in the world,” he declared.

Beiersdorf is taking a similar umbrella approach to its pharmacy-distributed skin care brand, Eucerin, which grew sales 7 percent in 2004. Eucerin achieved double-digit growth in 19 countries in 2004, and is the number one apothecary skin care and skin cleansing brand in Europe, he said. In the prestige segment, the Juvena/La Prairie Group increased currency-adjusted sales to 186 million euros, or $243 million.

Geographically, Asia saw the strongest sales growth, with sales in China increasing by 30 percent and sales in Thailand rising 12 percent. After years of stagnation, the launch of Eucerin body lotion helped sales in Japan grow by 7 percent. Sales in Australia also increased 23 percent.

European sales, excluding Germany, rose 2.1 percent to 1.85 billion euros, or $2.42 billion, and contributed about 50 percent of the division’s total sales. Great Britain increased sales 14 percent, Switzerland was up 8 percent, Spain rose 7 percent, Portugal increased 6 percent and Sweden grew 5 percent.

The domestic market remained under the cloud of Germany’s economic doldrums and continued consumer reluctance. “5.2 million unemployed does not provide the scenario one needs to build business,” Wölfer commented. Overall, the Beiersdorf brands inched up German sales 1 percent to 898 million euros, or $1.17 billion. — Melissa Drier

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