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Unilever undergoes transformation

News, 27 July 2015
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LONDON: Unilever, the FMCG giant known for its famous food brands like Marmite spread and Ben and Jerry's ice cream, is repositioning itself to concentrate more on faster-growing personal care products.

Speaking on a conference call following the announcement of its half-year results, CEO Paul Polman said the company saw great opportunities to increase its premium personal care business, Marketing Week reported.

After acquiring four prestige personal care brands earlier this year, Unilever plans to grow the division into a €1bn business and, while it hasn't ruled out further acquisitions, it plans to focus on R&D and consumer insights to achieve growth.

"We will be a major player in the [prestige] segment," Polman said. "Our personal care business is now the second biggest in the world after L'Oréal and we are on a continuous path to improvement."

Premium personal care is close to accounting for 50% of Unilever's business, he said as he emphasised the importance of innovation to maintain this growth.

Polman said Unilever has stepped up its innovation capabilities in a number of ways and that innovation had delivered 20% more to turnover than in 2013.

Meanwhile, the number of projects using new technologies has risen from 35% to 45% and the company aims to raise the proportion further to 75%.

Unilever's turnover in the first-half of the year was a better-than-expected €27bn, although the maker of Dove soap and Percil detergent reported a 14% drop in pre-tax profits to €3.6bn.

However, last year's profits had been boosted by €1.3bn from disposals of some of its food brands, the Financial Times reported. If that is taken out of the equation, then pre-tax profits rose 13%.

Data sourced from Marketing Week, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff

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