“We have delivered another good all-round performance despite severe economic disruptions, particularly in India and Brazil, two of our largest markets. This further demonstrates the progress we have made in transforming Unilever into a more resilient business. We have again grown ahead of our markets, driven by strong innovations that support our category strategies,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “At a time of unprecedented global change, ‘Connected 4 Growth’ – the next stage in our transformation – will make Unilever simpler, faster and more connected with our consumers and customers, and we are already starting to see positive results. We are also making further progress in reshaping our portfolio, adding businesses in fast-growing segments with the acquisitions of Dollar Shave Club, Blueair, Seventh Generation and Living Proof.
According to Polman, priorities for 2017 continue to be “volume growth ahead of our markets, a further increase in core operating margin and strong cash flow. 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 background, we expect a slow start with growth improving as the year progresses.”
Unilever praised its personal care unit, which continued to ‘grow the core through innovations while extending into more premium segments.”
Drilling down, the company said deodorants performed well, driven by the continued success of dry sprays in North America and Rexona Antibacterial with 10x more odor protection, which is now in more than 50 countries.
In hair, growth was driven by the successful Sunsilk relaunch and by the TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume range with unique reverse conditioning system. In skin cleansing, Lifebuoy demonstrated strong growth across emerging markets, driven by our handwashing campaign and further roll-outs into Kenya and Ethiopia.
In addition, Unilever said Dove had another good year supported by the strong growth of its premium and the Men+Care ranges.
The CPG giant’s home care unit delivered another year of growth ahead of its markets, which Unilever said was driven by strong innovations. Surf grew double-digits, helped by the launch of Surf Sensations, the first fabrics cleaner with perfume-like fragrance, and the roll-out of the brand into Central and Eastern Europe. Value brand Brilhante contributed to good volume growth in Latin America, catering to hard-pressed consumers. Further, the successful roll-out of Omo with enhanced formulation and improved cleaning technology has now reached 27 countries, said the firm, Fabric conditioners grew strongly, supported by the new variants of Comfort Intense with double-encapsulated fragrance. In household care, growth was driven by the premium Cif Power and Shine sprays and the roll-out of Domestos toilet blocks in Europe, according to Unilever.
Overall, officials labeled the year’s market conditions as “challenging, and particularly so in the fourth quarter.”