Top Companies Report

1. Unilever

July 30, 2010

United Kingdom
Sales: $26.2 billion

Key Personnel:
Paul Polman, chief executive officer; Michael Treschow, chairman; Jean-Marc Hüet, chief financial officer; Douglas Anderson Baillie, president, Western Europe; Professor Geneviéve Berger, chief R&D officer; Harish Manwani, president, Asia Africa; Sandy Ogg, chief human resources officer; Michael B. Polk, president, global foods, home and personal care; Pier Luigi Sigismondi, chief supply chain officer; Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer

Major Products:
Personal care—Axe/Lynx, Dove, Lifebuoy, Pond’s, Rexona, Signal, Close-Up, Sunsilk, Lux, Vaseline, Tigi. Household care—Persil/Omo, Cif, Comfort, Domestos, Sunlight, Omo, Radiant, Surf, Snuggle

New Products:
Personal care—Dove Minimizing Deodorant, Signal White Now, Clear shampoo, Dove for Men, Axe Dark Temptation; Home care—Twilight Sensations detergent. Acquisition: Tigi

Volume rose 2.3% last year, while underlying sales improved 3.5%. More specifically, personal care sales rose 4% to $16.5 billion, while sales of home care and other products fell more than 3% to $9.7 billion.

By region, sales in Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe rose nearly 3% to $20.7 billion. Unilever noted that volume growth accelerated through the year, reaching 9.4% in the fourth quarter, with strong performances in Indonesia, China, Turkey, Vietnam, Arabia and Australia.

Sales in the Americas fell 2.6% to $17.9 billion, while volume increased 2.5%. Unilever noted that

Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees is a Dove pitchman.
consumer confidence was fragile in the region in general and the U.S. in particular. Still, all major units in the region contributed to volume growth, with strong performances in Brazil, Chile and the U.S. Pricing turned negative in the fourth quarter, especially in the U.S. and Brazil, driven, in part, by a more intensive competitive pricing environment, especially in home and personal care.

In Western Europe, sales fell 6% to $16.8 billion due to low consumer confidence and rising unemployment. As one might expect, the situation was most challenging in southern Europe, especially in Spain and Greece.

Unilever leadership takes great pride in its strength in developing and emerging markets, as well as its robust portfolio. Last year, D&E markets (which include all countries in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, except Japan and Australia) accounted for 49% of sales, up from 47% in 2008. Meanwhile, after a decade of rationalization, Unilever’s top 25 brands represent nearly 75% of sales, and the top 13 brands, including Axe/Lynx, Dove, Lux, Omo, Rexona, Sunsilk and Surf, accounted for sales of $32 billion. Moreover, by the end of 2009, 10 of the top 13 brands were gaining share and the others maintaining share, according to chief executive officer Paul Polman.

Double in Size, While Reducing the Footprint
Earlier this year, Polman said that Unilever has set itself the challenge of doubling the size of its business while reducing its environmental footprint. He said that the key to making this goal happen is by inspiring consumers to switch to a more sustainable way of living through the brands they choose.

Speaking at The Economist’s Sustainability Summit, Polman said, “those companies that wait to be forced into action or who see it solely in terms of reputation management or CSR, will do too little too late and may not even survive.”

In his presentation, Polman cited one estimate that if everyone’s living standards and consumption patterns were similar to those of the average Briton, it would mean that the resources of three planets would be needed.

For the first quarter of 2010, corporate sales rose 6.7% to $14 billion. Sales of personal care products jumped 7.9% to $4.3 billion. Unilever credited the gain to the introduction of Dove Men+Care body wash that was launched in Europe using patented “Nutrium” moisture technology and Dove Hair Damage Repair, which debuted in the U.S. At the same time, Lifebuoy soap was rolled out to new markets including Turkey, Malaysia and Egypt.

Sales of home care products rose 2.5% to $2.5 billion on broad volume growth. Unilever noted that sales of liquid detergent in China are strong and the form is being extended into Turkey. Meanwhile, a reformulated Wheel detergent was relaunched in India and a new and improved Radiant detergent was launched in Thailand and South Africa. Also during the quarter, the household cleaning business launched Cif in India and Domestos in Italy.

In a presentation to analysts, Unilever management noted a continuing effort to drive innovation through the Dove brand. In hair, for example, the Damage Expert range of shampoos and conditioners will build a position based on better hair therapy solutions. It is also a good example of innovative use of new packaging design techniques, according to the company. The range will be introduced into more than 50 markets by the end of the year. Also, Unilever continued to roll out Dove Men+ Care throughout Western Europe and North America, with encouraging early results.

Looking ahead, Polman predicted a long, drawn out recovery and noted that the consumer packaged goods industry can be divided into two camps. In the developed markets, the impact of high fiscal deficits on public spending and taxes, stubbornly high unemployment and low consumer confidence may mean a prolonged period of stagnation in some markets. Yet, in D&E markets, Unilever expects robust growth but at lower levels than in 2007 with a risk of overheating in China and India.
  • The Good, The Bad Can Get Ugly

    The Good, The Bad Can Get Ugly

    March 28, 2017
    If you are what you eat, you may really be in trouble!

  • It’s Magic!

    It’s Magic!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 20, 2017
    Argan oil-infused ‘Moroccan’ lip care brand jumps from WholeFoods into CVS.

  • On the Cutler Edge

    On the Cutler Edge

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 13, 2017
    Top brand source at Redken forecasts up-to-the-minute hair trends.

  • Supply-Side Innovations

    Supply-Side Innovations

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Raw material suppliers roll up their sleeves and roll out their new products for the global cleaning industry.

  • New Faces in Familiar Places

    New Faces in Familiar Places

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    The American Cleaning Institute officially welcomed its new president.

  • Special Delivery

    Special Delivery

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    UV protection is important, but what good is that sunscreen if consumers won’t apply it?

  • Garden Variety

    Garden Variety

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 1, 2017
    Color cosmetics for Spring 2017 are inspired by the beauty of nature and new beginnings.

  • OTC = TLC

    OTC = TLC

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 1, 2017
    Over-the-counter treatments provide consumers’ skin and hair with extra care.

  • The Green Dot

    The Green Dot

    John Kim and Lambros Kromidas, PhD*, Shiseido Americas||March 1, 2017
    Insights into one of the most used trademarks in the world.

  • An Essential Read

    An Essential Read

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Industry expert Nadim Shaath takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the history and the future of essential oils.

  • Sustainability, Brexit and AI Are in Focus at In-Cosmetics

    Sustainability, Brexit and AI Are in Focus at In-Cosmetics

    March 1, 2017
    In-Cosmetics Global 2017 will take place in London, April 4-6, 2017

  • Trade Association Directory 2017

    February 2, 2017
    Contact details of trade associations that serve various segments of our industry and are mentioned frequently in Happi.

  • What the Halal  Is Going On?

    What the Halal Is Going On?

    Imogen Matthews , In-Cosmetics||February 2, 2017
    Demand for these beauty products is surging thanks to a fastgrowing Muslim population.

  • Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Guadalupe Pellon and Annette Mehling , BASF||February 2, 2017
    BASF researchers detail the attributes of the company’s highly effective hair care system focusing on scalp sensitivity.

  • What’s in Style?

    What’s in Style?

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor||February 1, 2017
    The latest sprays, gels, mousses, serums and creams for hair are filled with luxury components and meet a variety of needs

  • Defining Clean Skin

    Defining Clean Skin

    Nava Dayan PhD, Dr. Nava Dayan LLC||February 1, 2017
    A look at the issues, research and history surrounding this controversial topic.

  • Linked In

    Linked In

    Christine Esposito , Associate Editor||February 1, 2017
    Through virtual reality, apps and connected devices, beauty and personal care brands can strengthen their customer relations

  • Hitting the Right Notes

    Hitting the Right Notes

    January 6, 2017
    Agilex Fragrances is the leader in the middle market fragrance category.

  • The Smell of Clean in 2017

    The Smell of Clean in 2017

    January 6, 2017
    Changing consumer lifestyles and demographics are impacting the scents found in the household cleaning category.

  • On the Edge

    On the Edge

    January 6, 2017
    Expanding beauty brands to watch in 2017

  • A New Contender?

    A New Contender?

    January 6, 2017
    Detergent sales are up, innovation continues and Henkel is determined to make it a dogfight in the segment.

  • Engagement 2016

    Engagement 2016

    January 6, 2017
    CSPA convenes in Fort Lauderdale for annual meeting.

  • Slow & Steady

    Slow & Steady

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    In a tumultuous environment, steady gains posted in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector are welcomed.

  • The World Comes to Orlando

    The World Comes to Orlando

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    More than 1,600 chemists traveled to Florida for the IFSCC Congress

  • The Plex Phenomenon

    The Plex Phenomenon

    Denise Costrini, Croda North America||December 1, 2016
    Croda details the hair-protecting qualities of bond multipliers and the company’s new bond-building formulation system.

  • New Hair Care Ingredients

    December 1, 2016
    Check out the latest releases from suppliers.

  • Hair & Now

    Hair & Now

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor ||December 1, 2016
    The shampoo and conditioner category is expanding with modern takes on these classic formulations.

  • Perform or Perish

    Perform or Perish

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 1, 2016
    Success in today’s skin care sector begins with active ingredients, formulated in products that address modern-day issues.