Despite a one percent slippage in sales, Anglo-Dutch foods and household products giant Unilever on Wednesday announced first-half profits sharply up, beating analysts’ expectations.

Pre-tax profit for the six months to June 30 came in at €2.3 billion ($2.24bn; £1.44bn) on reduced sales of €25.4bn.

Path to Growth, Unilever’s five-year restructuring programme, is on schedule says finance director Rudy Markham. The group has already axed 28,600 jobs out of a planned 33,000 and closed 75 of the 135 manufacturing sites scheduled for closure. Seventy-one non-core businesses had been sold, adding €6.1bn to the balance sheet.

“We will achieve our Path to Growth targets in full and on time,” Markham said, adding that profits would also be fuelled by the addition of new products such as Hellman’s flavoured mayonnaise.

However, the group had not been immune from the downturn in the US economy, with underlying sales flat as increased food promotions and the closure of K-Mart stores took their toll.

The results coupled with Unilever’s bullish future outlook pushed up stock values by seven per cent in Wednesday morning trading on the London and Amsterdam markets.

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