LONDON — Unilever reported a 12.3 percent rise in its Q1 revenues to 12.8 billion euros, or $14.5 billion, with favorable exchange rates contributing to 10.6 percent of that gain.
Dollar figures have been calculated at average exchange rates for the period.
Stripping out the effects of exchange rates, sales in the quarter rose 2.8 percent, with a 5.4 percent uptick in emerging markets.
Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, described the results as “a good start” to the year “despite a continued challenging trading environment in many parts of the world.”
While noting the ongoing “high levels of currency and commodity volatility,” Polman said the company is “now starting to see more tailwinds than headwinds in our markets, and expect our initiatives to deliver a further improvement in volume growth in the remainder of the year.”
In the quarter, personal care — which includes brands such as Dove, Tresemmé and Axe — saw a 15.3 percent rise, with 12.2 percent of that figure coming from favorable exchange rates and 2.7 percent from underlying sales growth, driven by products such as Axe deodorants and Dove’s Advanced Hair series. The firm said that the category “remains below historic levels in competitive markets,” and noted that it expects sales to accelerate in the second half of the year, thanks to new innovations. In March Unilever announced a deal to acquire REN Skincare and is set to introduce its Zendium toothpaste brand to France.
Unilever noted that Europe remained “weak,” with volumes growing but price deflation continuing across markets. North America saw a “modest price-driven pickup” over the quarter, while Latin America logged “strong growth” despite “difficult macro-economic conditions.”
The performance of emerging markets was split, with improving conditions in India and flat sales in China — with Unilever noting an end to trade de-stocking in the country — but a deterioration in Brazil and Russia.