Unilever upbeat despite euro hit

Colman's Norwich factory at Carrow Photo: Bill Smith

Colman's Norwich factory at Carrow Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Consumer goods giant Unilever, whose brands include Flora and Magnum ice cream, has been impacted by the stronger euro and slower emerging markets.

The Anglo-Dutch group's revenues were 6.3pc lower at 11.4 billion euros (£9.4 billion) in the first three months of the year, although it said underlying growth remained healthy with trading stronger than the rest of its markets.

When stripping out the impact of currency movements, underlying sales were 3.6pc higher, with volumes up 1.9pc and prices 1.6pc stronger.

There was growth of 6.6pc in emerging markets, but this was weaker than the annual rate of 8.4pc seen in the previous three months.

Paul Polman – chief executive of the firm which also runs the Norwich Colman's Mustard factory at Carrow – said: 'Emerging markets are currently passing through a period of slower demand and economic volatility but our strategy remains unchanged.'

Emerging markets, which account for more than half of Unilever's revenues, have been under pressure due to currency weakness in countries such as Brazil and India.

In Europe, sales were flat in the face of sluggish markets, as growth in ice cream, personal care - such as Vaseline and Dove soap - and home care offset a decline in foods due to a later Easter. The trading regions of UK and Germany boosted market share, it added.

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The underlying sales growth rate was slightly ahead of City expectations but shares fell 2pc due to the scale of the 8.9pc negative currency impact.