Knorr what a scorcher for Unilever

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Price cuts in austerity-ridden European markets failed to derail Unilever yesterday after better-than-expected sales figures from the Hellmann’s and Knorr maker.

Shares in the UK-Dutch company gained 2 per cent to 2,310p as it disclosed underlying sales growth of 5.9 per cent for the quarter to 30 September, driven by emerging markets and demand for its laundry and household cleaning products.

In Europe, sales of €3.7 billion (£3bn) were up 0.9 per cent on an underlying basis, despite prices falling by 1.2 per cent as a result of “intensely competitive, promotionally-driven markets”.

Unilever said it responded to the needs of hard-pressed consumers by launching more value-priced products. Its European volumes rose 2.1 per cent in the quarter, compared with 0.9 per cent in the first half of the year.

Other brands in the firm’s portfolio include Flora, Marmite and PG Tips.