Unilever sales up driven by volume growth

Consumer goods group Unilever, which owns the Dove, Peperami and Lynx brands, has posted a 1.8% rise in fourth-quarter sales, driven by strong volume growth.

Underlying sales, which exclude acquisitions, disposals and currency movements, for the full year grew 3.5%.

Unilever cut prices 3.1% during the Quarter as part of chief executive Paul Polman’s strategy to build volume growth to “drive long-term value creation”.

Polman says the group made good progress in “challenging” market conditions and saw improved market share throughout the year.

“Our brands are stronger, driven by better quality innovation and a step-change in advertising and promotional expenditure. We have further strengthened our leading positions in developing and emerging markets and made encouraging progress in re-establishing volume growth in Western Europe.

“The organisation is moving fast towards a stronger performance culture. We are faster and more agile and focused on serving over 2 billion consumers every day. We expect continued pressure on consumer spending power and heightened levels of competitive activity in 2010. We will continue to focus on volume growth as the main driver of long term value creation, whilst delivering steady and sustainable year-on-year improvement in operating margin and strong cashflow.”

Unilever revealed recently that it plans to recruit 30 marketers and a UK brand director to beef up its marketing capacity, and follow the strategy to include Unilever corporate branding on all its product campaigns with the aim of building greater recognition of the group.

During the quarter Unilever launched Dove for Men +Care in Italy, France, Spain and Benelux with “encouraging early results”. It is expected to launch in the UK in the first half of this year.

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