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Unilever gloomy on outlook despite rising sales

Consumer goods maker sees no sign of improving global economy
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New products in ranges such as Knorr boosted sales

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever PLC (LON:ULVR) forecast no let-up in tough markets as it reported higher first-half sales.

Unilever, which makes brands such as Dove soap, Pot Noodle and PG Tips, said it had been preparing for tougher market conditions this year and did not see "any sign of an improving global economy".

"Against this backdrop we continue to drive agility and cost discipline," the company said.

Underlying sales rose 4.7%, which Unilever said was ahead of its markets, with volumes up 2.2%. 

Sales increased 5.4% at constant exchange rates and decreased by 2.6% at current exchange rates

Underlying sales in emerging markets increased 8% with volume up 2.9%.

In the second quarter, group underlying sales rose 4.7% with volumes up 1.8%.

In product terms, personal care and foods achieved improved growth while maintaining strong profitability.

Home care and refreshment improved margins while continuing to grow competitively.

Savoury showed good growth driven by cooking products in emerging markets, innovations around naturalness such as Knorr Mealmakers with 100% natural ingredients in Europe and local brands such as Bango in Indonesia and Robertsons in South Africa.

Chief executive Paul Polman said: "Despite a challenging environment with slower global economic growth and intensifying geopolitical instability, we have again grown profitably."

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