Unilever has reported a surge in revenue for the third quarter, with underlying sales up 8.3%. The company says it has been able to push through price rises without hurting sales volumes.
The packaged goods giant, which makes Dove, Persil and Flora, says it has boosted spend on advertising and promoting its brands by £80m over the previous nine months. However, it adds that, as a percentage of sales, spend on advertising was 0.5 percentage points lower than in the first nine months last year and 0.7 percentage points lower than in the third quarter. Unilever says this reflects “strong, price-driven sales growth.”
A combination of price rises and cost saving has pushed up quarterly operating margins by 0.3%. Unilever’s outgoing chief executive Patrick Cescau (pictured) says: “Despite the price rises needed in light of unprecedented cost increases, our volumes are holding up.”
Cescau adds that efficiency programmes, under the One Unilever streamlining initiative, saved £635m in the first nine months. Pre-tax profits for the third quarter rose by 83% to £1.99bn, but this was boosted by profits from disposals including the company’s US laundry businesses. The company says it expects to deliver underlying sales growth “well in excess” of its long-term target for the year.
In September, Unilever named NestlÈ’s Patrick Polman as Cescau’s successor. Polman will formally take over at the end of the year.