Unilever is reaping the benefits of its ‘path to growth’ programme of selling peripheral products, as its central brands drove organic sales growth in the third quarter.

Following the recent disposal of hundreds of products by the consumer goods colossus, overall Q3 sales dipped 1% at constant currency rates to €13.1 billion ($12.9bn; £8.3bn). However, like-for-like sales (excluding acquisitions/divestments) rose 4.5%, driven by 5.4% growth at the group’s 400 core brands.

The strategy seems to be paying off – pre-tax profits jumped 33% year-on-year to €1.34bn, while 18% earnings per share growth beat the forecast of 10%. Unilever has also hit its target of cutting €1.6bn from procurement costs three months earlier than scheduled.

For the first nine months of 2002, pre-tax profits rose to €3.67bn, up from €3.08bn last year, while sales slipped from €39.1bn to €38.7bn.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff