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Unilever upbeat despite soft ice cream sales

Unilever expects sales growth for its new financial year to be in the “lower half” of its 3-5% range after revenue fell “slightly below” expectations in 2019 because of a slowdown in the fourth quarter.

Chief executive Alan Jope, said: “While we expect an improvement from the fourth quarter of 2019 into the first half of 2020, first half underlying sales growth will be below 3%.”

Unilever forecasts an improvement in the second half of 2020 and its share price rose 1.3% to £45.00 in early trading.

But Mr Jope cautioned: “The impact of the coronavirus outbreak is unknown at this time.”

Home care, which includes cleaning brands such as Cif was Unilever’s stand-out division with sales rising by 6.1% last year.

In food, however, sales rose by 1.5% with ice cream facing tough comparisons to the previous year when hot weather in Europe increased demand for products such as Ben & Jerry’s.

Overall, Unilever said its turnover increased by 2% to €51.9bn (£43.9bn) for 2019.

Pre-tax profit fell by 32.9% to €8.3bn. In the previous year, Unilever had made a €4.3bn gain in 2018 after selling its margarine and spreads business.

Source – BBC News