Unilever says customer focus boosts sales

Unilever says increased investment in brands such as Dove, Knorr and Lipton helped push sales up 13.2% in the third quarter.

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The FMCG company says turnover totalled €11.5bn (£10.1bn) in the three months to 30 September, up from €10.2bn (£8.9bn) a year earlier. The sales bump helped lift net profit to €1.25bn (£1.09bn), from €1.05bn (£920m) in the third quarter last year.

Unilever is looking to increase volume and margins by investing in marketing. It recently created three global roles to boost return from marketing investment and has committed to exploring advertising innovations including user generated branded video content.

Paul Polman, Unilever’s chief executive, says that the third quarter results show that its “strategy to focus on the consumer and to accelerate growth is working”.

Investment in its brands “significantly increased”, the company says in a statement. Spending on advertising and promotions was flat at constant exchange rates, Unilever says, though investment did increase by 100 base percentage points, it adds.

Unilever says it expects the €1.3bn (£1.14bn) acquisition of Sara Lee’s personal care products division, currently being examined by European regulators, to complete in the fourth quarter.

The company has also agreed to buy V05 maker Alberto Culver for $3.7bn (£2.3bn).

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