LONDON — Unilever, owner of consumer products ranging from Dove soap and Pond’s skin cream to Hellmann’s mayonnaise, saw its profits fall 11.3 percent to 2.66 billion euros, or $2.95 billion, in the fiscal first half.
The company blamed a “challenging environment” marked by weak demand, and cited continued investment in acquisitions and product extensions.
Revenues were up 12 percent to 26.99 billion euros, or $29.96 billion, although at constant currencies, the gain stood at 1.8 percent. Dollar figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the six months ended June 30.
“Consumer demand remains weak, and in the markets in which we operate, volumes are flat,” the company said. “Emerging markets continue to be subdued, whilst in Europe and North America, growth is negligible.”
Chief executive officer Paul Polman said the “sharpened strategies across each of our four categories and a step-up in our innovation pipeline are increasingly driving our growth and margin expansion in a continued challenging environment. We plan for another year of volume growth ahead of our markets, steady improvement in core operating margin and strong cash flow.”
He also talked about investment in the first half, noting the numerous high-end acquisitions in the personal care business: Dermalogica, Murad, Kate Somerville and REN.
The company said that growth in the personal care category was driven by “volume and price in competitive markets.” It said the Dove Advanced Hair Series is establishing itself well across the world, most recently in Asia while TRESemmé is extending its reach to more premium ranges with the Perfectly (Un)done and Runway collections.