By Michael Susin

 

Unilever's new chief executive, Hein Schumacher, outlined plans aimed at remedying some of the group's underperformance while the company backed its full-year guidance after third-quarter sales slipped by less than feared.

The Anglo-Dutch retailer--which owns consumer brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap--on Thursday said it will focus on its 30 main brands, shift from gross savings to net productivity and make several changes on the leadership team.

"This action plan leverages Unilever's many capabilities and looks to accelerate areas where we are already making progress. In all areas we are focused on fewer things, done better, with greater impact," the company said.

Unilever said it has appointed current president of beauty and wellbeing business, Fernando Fernandez, as chief financial officer with effect from Jan. 1. Fernandez replaces Graeme Pitkethly, who will retire from the company earlier this year.

The company added that it will sell Dollar Shave Club and will retain a minority shareholding of 35%, without disclosing financial details about the deal.

The retailer reported third-quarter underlying sales growth of 5.2% on year, in line with the company-provided market consensus. Growth was once again supported by higher prices, up 5.8%, while volumes fell 0.6%. This compares with analysts' expectations of a price growth of 5.1% and volumes up 0.1%.

Turnover came in 15.2 billion euros ($16.06 billion), below the EUR15.8 billion reported the year-earlier period but ahead of the company-provided consensus of EUR15.18 billion.

Sales of the personal care division grew 8% to EUR3.6 billion, while the ice-cream business was the worst performer, with underlying sales decreasing 2.8%.

Looking ahead, Unilever said it continues to expect underlying sales growth for 2023 to be above 5%.

The board declared a quarterly dividend of 42.68 European cents, the same as a year ago.

Shares at 0702 GMT were down 100 pence, or 2.5%, at 3,913.5 pence.

 

Write to Michael Susin at michael.susin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 26, 2023 03:42 ET (07:42 GMT)

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