LONDON — First-quarter sales at Unilever, parent of Vaseline, Tresemmé and Dove, climbed 11.9 percent to 12.1 billion euros, or $16 billion, in the first quarter of the year, fueled by sales in emerging markets.

Dollar figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the three-month period.

The company said in a trading statement today that the Alberto Culver hair care brands were performing well, and the integration of Concern Kalina, the Russian beauty company acquired last year, was on track.

 

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“We have grown ahead of our markets with all categories delivering positive volume growth. Emerging markets, now 56 percent of the business, have again delivered strong growth,” stated company chief executive Paul Polman. Growth in emerging markets was 11.9 percent, while developed markets gained 4.2 percent. He added that the good performance in developed markets came partly from weak comparative figures.

“Our performance is pleasing given struggling economies, continued fragile consumer confidence and competitor activity,” said Polman.

Going forward, he said the external macroeconomic environment remains difficult, and higher raw material and manufacturing costs are not going away. Despite that, Polman added, “Our long-term priorities remain unchanged — profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable core operating margin improvement and strong cash flow. For 2012, we remain on track to deliver a modest improvement in full-year core operating margin, weighted towards the second half of the year.”
   
The statement said the hair care category had benefited from the rollout of brands into new markets and innovation. Tresemmé growth is being driven by its successful launch in Brazil, it said, and the new split ends range. Dove Damage Therapy continues to perform well, and the premium Style and Care styling range has just been introduced in the United States.

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