Unilever’s five core business categories all recorded sales growth during the period, offset by mixed volume declines across each division
Unilever’s outgoing CEO Alan Jope is set to be replaced by Hein Schumacher in July
Sales increased by 9%, with product prices reaching a record 13.3% in the group’s fourth quarter.
The owner of Dove and Dermalogica increased its pricing last year to offset the “significant” input cost inflation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But this impacted the group’s overall sales volumes for the period, which saw declines of 2.1%.
Graeme Pitkethly, Chief Financial Officer, said efforts were made to streamline the company’s inventory.
This resulted in the removal of over 50,000 skus from the group’s Personal Care business, as well as the delisting of around 60 local brands.
Pitkethly said the removed business and skus amounted to 1% of Unilever's overall sales.
"Unilever delivered a year of strong topline growth in challenging macroeconomic conditions,” said outgoing CEO Alan Jope.
“Despite sharp rises in material costs, we have prioritised stepping up our brand and marketing investment.
“Underlying operating margin was delivered in line with our guidance, with underlying operating profit up for the year.”
Turnover was up 14.5% to €60.1bn, affected slightly by a 6.2% currency impact.
All five of Unilever’s core business categories also recorded increased sales growth during the period.
Demand for skin and hair care products resulted in a 7.8% sales boost for the group’s Beauty and Wellbeing division.
This was led by sales from Unilever’s Sunsilk and Nexxus brands.
Prestige Beauty also delivered double-digit growth for the category, due to a strong performance from Paula’s Choice and Hourglass and the duo’s expansion into China.
Unilever's Personal Care division was affected by lowered demand for skin cleansing products, but still ended the year with a 7.9% uptick in sales.
This was offset by deodorant sales, however, which saw both double-digit growth and positive sales performance.
“There is more to do, but the changes we have made mean that we start 2023 with momentum, setting us up well for delivering another year of higher growth, which remains our first priority,” added Jope.
In January, Unilever appointed Hein Schumacher as its new CEO.
Currently serving as President of American food producer Heinz, Schumacher will join the British consumer goods company on 1 July 2023.
It comes after Jope announced he would retire from the British consumer goods company in September 2022.