Unilever warns on profit margin

Unilever, the owner of Lynx and Dove, has reported a 7% rise in global sales as strong sales in emerging markets offset sluggish performance in developed markets.

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Total sales were €10.9bn (£9.7bn) for the first three months of the year. The FMCG company, however, warned that rising commodity costs will put more pressure on prices.

It expects profit margins in the first half of the year to be squeezed as costs rise faster than consumer prices.

Unilever says the integration of the Sara Lee business and its Radox brand is “well on track” and its acquisition of the Alberto Culver health and beauty business is set to complete in the next quarter.

CEO Paul Polman says Unilever has delivered a “good” performance against a backdrop of increasing costs, weak consumer confidence and competitive markets.

Polman adds: “We continue to focus on the long term development of the business and our priorities remain: profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable underlying operating margin improvement and strong cash flow. We will continue to invest in our brands and will ensure that they are fully competitive and being managed for the long term.”

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