LONDON — Unilever announced Thursday its first-quarter profits spiked 31 percent to 1.41 billion euros, or $2.1 billion at average exchange, thanks in part to profits from divested businesses, and said it expects its full-year underlying sales growth to exceed its initial 3 to 5 percent projection.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, which owns personal care brands, including Dove and Sunsilk, as well as a plethora of home care and food businesses, reported flat sales at 9.57 billion euros, or $14.34 billion. At constant exchange, sales grew 6 percent in the quarter, while underlying sales growth was up 7.2 percent. Unilever's operating margin, meanwhile, was 5.3 percentage points higher than the prior-year period at 19 percent.
"We have had a good start to the year, with strong organic growth across our categories and an underlying improvement in operating margin," stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive. "We continue to invest behind our brands while taking the necessary pricing action to recover a sharp increase in commodity costs. We have a strong innovation program for 2008 with many important initiatives already in the market. We expect our productivity and value improvement initiatives to continue to deliver excellent results."
Of the 7.2 percent underlying sales growth uptick, pricing was responsible for 4.8 percent and volume 2.3 percent. "The pricing action we are taking to recover commodity cost increases is essential to protect margins and to ensure that we can continue to invest behind our brands for long-term growth," said Jim Lawrence, Unilever's chief financial officer, during a conference call Thursday, adding the on-cost of commodity price inflation was about 400 million euros, or $599.1 million, in the quarter. "In the short term, higher prices are impacting on volume growth across many of our consumer markets — and not just for Unilever.
Market volumes are flat across the developed economies. In developing and emerging markets, volume growth rates remain healthy but have eased slightly from the highs of the last two years."
By geographic region in the first quarter, Unilever's sales were down 1.4 percent in Europe to 3.49 billion euros, or $5.23 billion; down 2.8 percent in the Americas at 3.14 billion euros, or $4.7 billion, and up 6.7 percent in Asia-Africa at 2.94 billion euros, or $4.4 billion. Underlying sales growth for the regions was up 2.3 percent, 6.4 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively.Unilever said its personal care division reported underlying sales growth up 5.8 percent in the quarter. Unilever completed the sale of its Boursin cheese business and extended a joint venture between its Lipton tea brand and Pepsi in the first quarter.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast