Food and detergent giant Unilever has reported a 33% leap in first quarter profits after selling its Boursin cheese unit, and has announced it will cut 350 UK jobs this year to further boost sales. The maker of Magnum ice cream reported net income grew to 1.34bn euros (£1.05bn) from 131bn euros (£1.03bn) in 2007.
Sales in the first quarter climbed by 7.2% to 9.57bn euros (£7.53bn), accelerating from a 5.7% gain a year earlier. The company says it has fuelled growth by “a combination of innovation-led growth, savings programmes and price increases”.
Unilever, the second largest maker of food and detergent, has also combined its organisations in the Netherlands and Belgium to cut costs. The reorganisation saw global chief marketing officer Simon Clift’s role elevated to report directly to group chief executive Patrick Cescau (pictured) (MW March 13), and Vindi Banga promoted to run the company’s combined home and personal care businesses in addition to his food role.
Unilever sold Boursin to Le Groupe Bel for €400m (£312m) in January this year. It agreed to buy Russian ice-cream maker Inmarko in February. The company is selling its assets to catch up with rival Procter & Gamble, the biggest consumer goods maker, which has boosted sales more quickly since 2003.