In the third quarter, turnover increased by 9.4% to £9.9bn (€13.4 bn), while underlying sales grew 5.7%. Sales in Europe grew by 2%.
Speaking on a conference call following Unilever’s third quarter results this morning (15 October), Unilever’s CFO Graeme Pitkethly said that new innovations across categories including beauty and ice cream have contributed to the company’s sales growth.
Sales within the food category increased 1.6% throughout Q3, with personal care and refreshment growing 6.2% and 8.5% respectively. Pitkethly accredited this growth to the company’s increased focus on innovation.
“In Europe we experienced the fastest growth in the ice cream sector, coming from premium brands like Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s,” he explained.
“Innovations like Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core have helped towards double digit growth, while Magnum Pink and Black proved successful and will be kept in our range going forward.”
The company also saw growth within the tea category.
“We have launched new ranges of special teas under the Lipton brand, while PG tips was given a fresh new look in UK. We’ve also expanded into herbal and green teas,” he commented.
The company announced earlier in the year that it would have a stronger second half due to new innovations. The rewards are now paying off, added Pitkethly.
“In the UK personal care division we launched Simple Micellar Cleansing Water, which has contributed to growth. Innovation remains a critical driver of consistent growth.”
Ecommerce has become an ever more important part of the business. While globally the channel is growing at 20% for Unilever, ecommerce in the UK and Ireland is growing at around 15% and now represents 7% of the overall business.
“E-commerce has led to significant changes in the way we communicate with consumers and the way they shop. While ecommerce is growing globally at 20%, it’s much more exciting to look at it from a market-by-market basis. In key markets like the UK we have a dedicated e-commerce team, and it now represents a substantial part of the overall business.”
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