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.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over the top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty