PARIS — Unilever reported its fourth-quarter 2016 sales declined 0.4 percent, due to a weaker volume performance in some of its largest markets.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer-products giant, parent of brands ranging from Dove soap and Pond’s skin cream to Hellmann’s mayonnaise, registered revenues of 13 billion euros, or $14 billion, in the three months ended Dec. 31. On an organic basis, sales in the period gained 2.2 percent.
“Market conditions have been challenging throughout the year, and particularly so in the fourth quarter,” the group said in a statement on Thursday. “In a number of countries, volumes have been weak as consumers and retailers adjust to devaluation-led cost increases. The economic crisis in Brazil and removal of 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes from circulation in India presented significant additional headwinds.”
For full-year 2016, Unilever’s revenues advanced 0.9 percent in reported terms and 3.7 percent on a like-for-like basis to 52.7 billion euros, or $58.33 billion. All of the group’s categories contributed to the gains, while a negative currency impact dampened sales by 5.1 percent.
Revenues in emerging markets were up 6.5 percent and down 0.2 percent in developed markets.
Last year, Unilever’s personal-care division posted a 1.6 percent gain in revenues to 5.2 billion euros, or $5.76 billion. On an organic basis, its sales grew 4.2 percent, bolstered by innovations while extending into more premium segments. Unilever said its developing prestige business grew in line with company expectations.
Dollar figures are converted at average exchange for the period to which they refer.
“Our priorities continue to be volume growth ahead of our markets, a further increase in core operating margin and strong cash flow,” Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, said in a statement. “The tough market conditions, which made the end of the year particularly challenging, are likely to continue in the first half of 2017. Against this backdrop, we expect a slow start with growth improving as the year progresses.”