Unilever has posted a 35% year-on-year leap in first-quarter profits on the back of a strong performance by its Dove soap brand.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods colossus said net profits before exceptional items and amortisation of goodwill and intangibles totalled €927 million ($832m; £572m) between January and March, up from €685m in Q1 2001. Final net profits surged 94% to €463m.

The boost in earnings reflects increased focus on profit margins. Underlying sales rose only 2%, while total group turnover slipped 1% to €12.29 billion.

Partly thanks to the launch of its shampoo range, Dove was hailed as helping to improve Unilever’s performance in Japan, North America, Mexico and not least Europe, where the brand’s sales jumped 60%.

Among other brands performing well was Ben & Jerry’s, credited with helping North American ice cream sales “grow very strongly,” while in Britain Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Knorr soups made “strong contributions.”

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); Unilever; additional content by WARC staff