Unilever on Tuesday issued a statement declaring itself "disappointed" at the sales performance of some of its biggest brands. These include such global names as Knorr, Hellman's, Dove and Marmite.

Across the Anglo-Dutch giant's top 400 fmcg brands, sales averaged a meagre 1.3% growth. The group said it intends to "look at" some of these disappointing products.

Pre-tax profits in Q1 2004 slid 8% to €931 million ($1.11bn; €620.02m), although net profit before one-off costs rose to €851m from €798m last time. Turnover dipped 2% to €9.79bn.

• Preceding today's announcement came news that Anthony Simon, president of Unilever's foods marketing division, is to retire in August after thirty-six years with the company. It is not known if there is a link between his departure and the company's "disappointing" sales performance.

Simon's job goes to Anthonie Stal, presently chairman of Unilever Bestfoods in the Netherlands and chairman of the spreads and cooking category in Europe.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK) and mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff