Underlying sales grew 2.6% to £11.8bn (€13.2bn) for the Anglo-Dutch company, compared with the same period last year. Sales, excluding spreads, grew 2.8% to £11.23bn (€12.5bn).
Unilever said sales growth was mostly driven by higher prices – up 2.4% – with volumes up 0.2%. Underlying sales growth in emerging markets was up 6.3% in the third quarter, with volume up 1.8%.
Food sales grew 1.5% to £2.6bn (€2.9bn), while volume rose by 0.2%. Refreshment sales – including ice cream – were up 3.1% to £2.4bn (€2.7bn), but volume fell by 2.4%.
Unilever blamed the drop in refreshment volume on poor weather conditions in Europe during the quarter.
‘More profitable business’
Commenting on the results, ceo Paul Polman said: “The transformation of Unilever into a more resilient, more competitive and more profitable business continues and we are making good progress against the strategic objectives we have set out for 2020.
“While conditions in our developed markets remain challenging, we are starting to see signs of improvement in some of our biggest emerging markets, including India and China.”
Sales rose by 3.1% in the first nine months of the 2017 financial year to £36.7bn (€40.9bn).
The company’s latest results follow a restructuring of the business, prompted by a failed £115bn takeover bid in February by rival food giant Kraft Heinz.
Dispose its spreads business
Unilever has revealed plans to dispose its spreads business – putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk – and has started to consolidate its food and drink related activities into one organisation based in the Netherlands. The moves were part of plans to improve shareholder returns and improve profits by 20%.
The company has remained quiet on claims it intends to move nearly 150 jobs from the UK to the Netherlands, in a plan to create a new global headquarters for food and drink brands.
City analysts predicted that Kraft Heinz’s failed bid would lead to Unilever disposing of some of its underperforming businesses.
Meanwhile, the closure of Britvic’s Norwich factory has raised concerns for the future of Colman’s Mustard and the Unilever workers that share the site.
Unilever third quarter results – at a glance
- Sales rose 3.1% in the first nine months
- Underlying sales growth 2.6% in the third quarter
- Growth in the quarter hit by poor weather in Europe
- Emerging markets underlying sales growth of 6.3% with volume up 1.8%