Unilever has warned on “high volatility” in 2016, following a drop in profits.
While fourth quarter underlying sales growth was ahead of city expectations, Unilever’s full year profits fell by 5% for 2015.
Paul Polman, Chief Exec at the consumer goods giant, said it had been a “challenging year” for the brand, highlighting “slower global economic growth, intensifying geopolitical instability, and high currency and commodity volatility.”
Emerging markets, where Unilever makes 58% of its sales, grew 7.1%, although there was little, if any, growth in established regions.
Polman insisted that despite this, Unilever had become a “more resilient business”, demonstrated by “consistency of performance” in delivering “underlying sales growth, market expansion and strong cash flow.”
The Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream maker is remaining cautious in preparation for unpredictability and “tougher market conditions in 2016”, which he said had already been demonstrated by recent world events.
“Therefore it is vital that we drive agility and cost discipline across our business,” he added. “We are further strengthening our innovation funnel while shortening innovation cycle times, stepping up our digital capabilities and rolling out a global zero based budgeting programme. Our priorities continue to be volume-driven growth ahead of our markets, steady improvement in core operating margin and strong cash flow.”