Unilever House, London
Unilever House in London.
Chloe Shakesby

Unilever making "good progress" as food sales heat up

Consumer goods company Unilever has announced that its sales have grown in the first half of the year.

Unilever, which owns food brands such as Ben & Jerry’s alongside home and beauty names including Dove and Domestos, saw underlying sales growth of 5.4 per cent in the first half of 2021.

Across its divisions, it saw the highest sales growth in foods and refreshments, with a 6.8 per cent increase, followed by beauty and personal care at 4.2 per cent and home care at 3.2 per cent.

The company said that the upswing included a 50 per cent growth in its ecommerce business, which now represents 11 per cent of its sales.

Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, commented: “Unilever has delivered a strong first half, with underlying sales growth of 5.4 per cent driven by our continued focus on operational excellence.

“We are making good progress against the strategic choices outlined earlier this year, including the development of our portfolio into high growth spaces.

“Prestige Beauty and Functional Nutrition grew strongly and we recently announced the acquisition of digitally-native skin care brand Paula’s Choice.

“The operational separation of our tea business is substantially complete. Our ecommerce business grew 50 per cent and the channel now represents 11 per cent of sales.

“Competitive growth is our priority, and we are confident that we will deliver underlying sales growth in 2021 well within our multi-year framework of 3-5 per cent, despite more challenging comparators in the second half.

“We have seen further cost inflation emerge through the second quarter. Cost volatility and the timing of landing price actions create a higher than normal range of likely year end margin outcomes.

“We are managing this dynamically and expect to maintain underlying operating margin for 2021 around flat.”

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