The end of strict lockdowns and the retail recovery in key markets has boosted Unilever’s first half 2021 sales by 5.4 per cent to 25.8 billion euros (AUD$41.34 billion).

CEO Alan Jope singled out prestige beauty and functional nutrition products as core drivers.  The multinational’s high-end division, including the Dermalogica, Murad, Kate Somerville and REN brands, posted double digit growth. Earlier this year, he predicted that the division would reach sales of 3 billion euros (AUD$4.8 billion) per annum within the next few years – up from the current 700 million euros (AUD$1.12 billion).

 Beauty and personal care, including power brands such as Dove, is Unilever’s second largest division and generated sales of 5.3 billion euros (AUD$8.49 billion) in the second quarter as major markets in the Northern Hemisphere welcomed Spring and Summer. Europe was the fastest-growing region for the period, followed by the US and Asia/Pacific.

Skincare, leveraged by power brands such as Vaseline and Pond’s, also increased by double digits. The company’s e-commerce business surged by 50 per cent in the first half of the year to represent 11 per cent of total sales. A very positive development for Unilever’s US$2 billion acquisition of digital-first pioneer, Paula’s Choice, announced in June.

Deodorants, led by Rexona, returned to growth in the first half. Haircare, powered by TRESemmé and Sunsilk, also enjoyed mid single digit growth, as did oral care.

We are making good progress against strategic choices, including the development of our portfolio into high growth spaces, added Jope. “Competitive growth is our priority, and we are confident that we will deliver underlying sales growth in 2021 well within our multi-year forecast of 3.5 per cent.”

Leading analysts backed up Unilever’s optimism, notably in beauty and personal care,  as the multinational continued to benefit from combined investments and brand development which aligns well with current consumer trends.

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