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Unilever Posts €30.4bn in H1 as Prestige Delivers Growth

Underlying sales of Unilever’s Beauty & Wellbeing division rose 9.1% in H1 2023.

Unilever’s sales surged in the first half of 2023, driven by higher prices and demand for premium beauty brands. €1-billion brands accounted for 55% of the group’s turnover, with underlying sales up 10.8%, led by strong performances from Rexona, Hellmann’s, OMO, Sunsilk and Lux.

On July 25, Unilever’s overall first-half turnover rose 2.7% to €30.4 billion ($33.6 billion), while underlying operating profit was €5.2 billion ($5.7 billion), up 3.3% from the previous year, according to the company’s financial report.

According to Unilever, the 9.1% growth was driven by prices, which rose by 9.4%, and growth in the Beauty & Wellbeing division was also a key driver, with underlying sales in the category up 9.1% and volumes up 3.8%.

Unilever said, “As underlying price growth has sequentially moderated from 13.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022, volumes were virtually flat with a stepup in performance in Beauty & Wellbeing and Personal Care offsetting volume declines elsewhere.”

Overall, Unilever Beauty & Wellbeing, which accounts for 20% of total group turnover, also reported a 10.8% increase in underlying sales in Unilever Personal Care, driven by price growth of 7.3% and volume growth of 3.2%.

Well-known brands such as Paula’s Choice and Hourglass saw “strong” sales with new product launches “backed by cutting-edge scientific technology”. These included skincare brand Dermalogica’s best-selling Phyto Nature Oxygen Cream.

Personal Care accounted for 23% of Unilever’s total turnover. Unilever’s Hair Care category also saw high single-digit growth, with ‘positive’ sales growth driven by the Americas. The Sunsilk and TRESemmé were among the leaders, achieving double-digit growth thanks to the relaunch of formulas and packaging.

Deodorant revenue topped the list with a double-digit spike. Dove delivered double-digit growth, as did the Rexona brand with double-digit sales growth based on a new model with Rexona 72-hour technology.

Men’s fragrance brand Axe also reported sales growth due to the launch of its Fine Fragrance range, which combines odor protection with premium fragrances.

Unilever also reported mid-single digit sales growth in its core skincare products, with Vaseline performing strongly after expanding its Gluta-Hya range into the pro-age market. Sales of skin cleansing products also showed high single-digit growth, with strong growth in Latin America and South Asia.

Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher said, “Unilever’s performance in the first half highlights the qualities that attracted me to the business: an unmatched global footprint, a portfolio of great brands and a team of talented people. Leveraging our core strengths to drive improved performance and competitiveness is our absolute priority.”

Hein Schumacher, Chief Executive Officer at Unilever, stated that The task ahead is to leverage these core strengths – supported by our simplified operating model – to drive improved performance and competitiveness. This is our absolute priority and it will mean bringing greater focus and sharper execution, with science-backed innovations and investment behind our brands.

According to Unilever’s second quarter results, revenue in Q2 was better than expected at €15.7 billion ($17.3 billion), with underlying sales up 7.9% year-on-year. By business, Beauty & Wellbeing revenue was €3.1 billion ($3.4 billion), with underlying sales up 8.8% year-over-year. Personal Care revenue was €3.5 billion ($3.9 billion), with underlying sales up 9.0% year-over-year. Home Care revenue was €3 billion ($3.3 billion), with underlying sales up 6.7% year-over-year. Nutrition revenue was €3.3 billion ($3.6 billion), with underlying sales up 8.9% year-over-year. And Ice Cream revenue was 2.8 billion ($3 billion), with underlying sales up 5.6% year-on-year.

The second quarter is Unilever the first financial results after changing its leader. Investors are carefully evaluating Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher’s first results since he took office, looking for clues to his strategy to revitalize Unilever’s sluggish performance. The new chief executive slightly raised his full-year forecast, predicting revenue growth of more than 5% this year. That guidance may be conservative, as analysts are forecasting 6.1%.

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