Sales: $33.2 billion
Key Personnel: Paul Polman, chief executive officer; Graeme Pitkethly, chief financial officer; David Blanchard, chief R&D officer; Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer; Alan Jope, president, personal care; Kees Kruythoff, president, North America; Leena Nair, chief HR officer; Nitin Paranjpe, president, home care; Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer; Jan Zijderveld, president, Europe.
Major Products: Home Care—Domestos, Omo, Surf, Ala, Biotex, Blueair, Brilhante, Cajoline, Cif, Coral, Drive, Jif, New Magic, Persil, Puro, Rin, Rinso, Robijn, Savo, Skip, Sun, Surf Excel, Unox, Viss, Vivere, Wheel, Xtra, Andy, Cuñataí, Deja, Dero, Fab, Fofo, Lavomatic, Mimosin, Nevex, Radiante, Sunil, Sunlight, Super Pell, Szavo, Via, Viso, Vixal, Wipol and Wonderlight. Personal Care—Axe, Dove, Lifebuoy, Lux, Rexona, Signal, Sunsilk, Aviance, Badedas, International Breeze, Brut, Caress, Citra, Clear, Closeup, Duschdas, Eskinol, Fair & Lovely, Fissan Baby, Hazeline, Pears, Pond’s Simple, Suave, Sunlight, Tigi, VO5, Vaseline, Williams, Zwitsal, Aim, Amodent, Andrélon, Baba, Block & White, Clinic Plus, Coco Varela, Cream Silk, Dawn, Elefante, Elle 18, Folicure, Gabi, Geisha, Glysolid, Good Morning, Hamam, Kalina, Le Sancy, Ayush Therapy, Liril, Matey, Monsavon, Organics, PS, Prodent, Proderm, Ultrex, Zendium, Zhonghua.
New Products: Tresemmé Keratin and Botanique, Lux Liminique, Dove Baby, Lifebuoy Silver, Dove Men + Care, Ayush, Axe Find Your Magic, Cif wipes, Surf Sensations, Persil Sensitive, Neutral detergent, Omo Progress, Domestos Power 5, Sunlight 2in1 and Hourglass Cosmetics (acquisition).
Comments: Hey big spender! Unilever may not be breaking the bank, but for the past 18 months or so, the company has been breaking out the checkbook, snapping up a range of companies like Dollar Shave Club, Blue Air, Seventh Generation, Living Proof, Murad, Dermalogica and, most recently, Hourglass. Founded in 2004 by Carisa Janes, Hourglass is known for its high-performance beauty products.
“We are delighted to be adding Hourglass to our portfolio of Prestige brands,” said Alan Jope, president personal care, Unilever. “The color cosmetics category has been showing high growth-rates, driven by social media content, channel diversity and democratization of professional makeup techniques, and it therefore presents a significant opportunity. Hourglass is already a successful brand in this space, offering fantastic makeup products that also deliver skin care benefits, and we look forward to continuing to grow this wonderful brand.”
CEO Janes added, “As the first color brand in Unilever’s Prestige portfolio, we are excited about this partnership as Hourglass continues to challenge the status quo with high performance luxury cosmetics. Unilever’s commitment to innovation and social responsibility is aspirational, and perfectly aligned with our vision for the future of Hourglass.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close sometime this quarter, subject to customary regulatory approvals.
It may be snapping up companies at a rapid pace, but apparently, Unilever knows how to position its lineup. In Kantar Worldpanel’s fifth annual study of the world’s most chosen FMCG brands, Unilever had the most brands. The analysis of FMCG brands measures which brands are being bought by the most consumers, most often, around the world. It examines around one billion households and 300 billion shopper decisions across 39 countries.
The 13 Unilever brands in the top 50 are Lifebuoy (3rd), Sunsilk (10th), Knorr (11th), Dove (12th), Lux (13th), Sunlight (14th), Pepsodent (18th), Surf (27th), Rexona (28th), Vim (29th), Brooke Bond (34th), Close Up (42nd) and Lipton (48th).
“Increasingly we see that people want to buy from companies and brands that not only have great products at the right price, but also fit with their values,” said Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer. “Our experience is that brands whose purpose and products respond to that demand are delivering stronger and faster growth. Our business is investment-led, innovation-led and sustainability-led. We will continue to invest in our brands to drive their growth, popularity and consumer benefits whilst ensuring they are contributing positively to society and the environment.”
Unilever’s doing well by doing good strategy is paying dividends. Its most sustainable brands are growing more than 50% faster than the rest of the business and delivered more than 60% of the company’s growth in 2016. In addition, in this Kantar study, more than two-thirds of the brands included in the top 50 were the Unilever Sustainable Living brands.
Kantar had more good news regarding Unilever’s 10 billion euro home care business, noting that the company’s 5% increase in sales outpaced the industry average and that 80% of sales are in emerging markets. The home care business benefitted from the launch of Surf Sensations, a fabric softener with perfume-like fragrances, and Comfort Intense fabric softeners.
In 2016, corporate sales fell 1%, but increased 4.3% at constant exchange rates. Personal care sales were €20.2 billion, helped along by a Sunsilk relaunch and Tresemmé Beauty-Full Volume range. Lifebuoy’s handwashing campaign provided a lift to soap sales as the message rolled out in Kenya and Ethopia. Finally, sales of Dove took off, helped along by the Men+Care launch.
For the first quarter of 2017, sales rose 6% to €13.3 billion, driven by a 3% price gain (primarily from Asia). In fact, emerging market underlying sales growth was 6.1%, with price up 5.3% and volume up 0.8%.
“The change program, ‘Connected for Growth,’ which we started to implement in the autumn last year is starting to bear fruit and is making Unilever more agile and closer to the local markets, unlocking both further growth and margin,” said CEO Paul Polman.
For the year, Polman expects underlying sales growth of 3-5%, an improvement to underlying operating margin of at least 80 basis points and strong cash flow.