Unilever lowers sales forecast on South Asia slowdown

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 17 2019 06:44 PM | Updated as of Dec 17 2019 06:54 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever, the maker of Magnum ice cream and Dove soap, warned Tuesday that sales will grow below expectations for 2019, due largely to a slowdown in South Asia.

The firm, whose products also include Ben and Jerry's ice cream and divisive yeast spread Marmite, said growth would be "slightly below its guidance of the lower half of its 3-5 percent multi-year range".

"Due to challenges in certain markets, we expect a slight miss to our full-year underlying sales growth delivery," chief executive Alan Jope said in a statement.

Growth in the first half of 2020 was also expected to come in below three percent for the firm whose 400 brands further include Knorr and Lipton tea, he added.

Unilever said the miss was "a result of challenges in the quarter in some markets, including the economic slowdown in South Asia, one of Unilever’s largest markets, and trading conditions in West Africa remaining difficult."

A full recovery in North America was expected to take time despite "early signs" of improvement, while trading in developed markets generally also remained "challenging", Unilever said.

"Growth remains our top priority and we are confident we have the right strategy and investment in place to step up our performance," added Jope, who took the helm in January.

Previous CEO Paul Polman announced his retirement last year shortly after Unilever was forced to ditch a controversial post-Brexit plan to move its headquarters from London to the Netherlands.