CONSUMER goods major Unilever posted lower sales yesterday for 2014 amid trading headwinds from emerging markets and price wars in mainland Europe.
A soft final quarter meant that annual turnover at the group, whose hundreds of household products include Persil, Dove, Magnum ice cream and Marmite, fell 2.7 per cent to €48.4 billion (about £37bn).
Sales in the fourth quarter were off 0.4 per cent. Operating profits at the group rose 6 per cent to €8bn over the full year.
Unilever chief executive Paul Polman said it had been a tough year for the company, and he was not expecting a marked improvement in the trading environment in 2015.
“We expect our full-year performance to be similar to 2014 with the first quarter being softer but growth improving during the year,” he noted.
Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Keith Bowman said the results update was disappointing.
Meanwhile, household products giant Reckitt Benckiser was fined £539,800 by the Financial Conduct Authority for inadequate systems and controls to monitor share-dealing by two unnamed senior executives.
The FCA said there was no suggestion that the executives traded on the basis of inside information, but markets needed to be “fair and seen to be fair”.
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