Unilever misses target as cold snap bites

CONSUMER goods giant Unilever has reported weaker-than-expected sales growth as demand for ice cream was hit by the cooler spring weather.

The maker of Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum said underlying sales grew 4.9 per cent to €12.2 billion (£10.4bn) during the first three months of the year, falling short of the 5.6 per cent rise pencilled in by analysts.

Emerging markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam enjoyed growth of 10.4 per cent and now account for more than 57 per cent of total turnover, but underlying sales in Europe fell 3.1 per cent.

Unilever, which also makes Dove soap, Pot

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Noodle snacks and Sure deodorant, said its performance in Europe reflected the tough economic conditions and strong trading a year ago, “particularly in ice cream where the early spring weather in the prior year was not repeated”.