Unilever released its Q4 financial figures today (4 February) and say their vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and will demonstrate how their purpose-led future fit business model drives superior performance, consistently delivering financial results in the top third of our industry.
• Underlying sales growth of 1.9%, with 1.6% volume and 0.3% price
• Turnover decreased 2.4%, primarily driven by a negative impact of 5.4% from currencyrelated items
• Underlying operating profit decreased 5.8%, but increased by 0.7% at constant exchange rates
• Underlying earnings per share decreased 2.4%, but increased 4.1%at constant exchange rates
• Diluted earnings per share of €2.12
• Free cash flow up €1.5 billion to €7.7 billion, reflecting our objective to protect cash
• Dividend maintained through the year and increased in the fourth quarter by 4% to €0.4268per share
• Unified the group legal structure under a single parent company
Alan Jope, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever said: “In a volatile and unpredictable year, we have demonstrated Unilever’s resilience and agility through the Covid-19 pandemic. I would like to thank the Unilever team, whose dedication and hard work has delivered a strong set of results under the most difficult of circumstances.
“Early in the year, we refocused the business on competitive growth, and the delivery of profit and cash as the best way
to maximise value. We have delivered a step change in operational excellence through our focus on the fundamentals
of growth. As a result, we are winning market share in over 60% of our business in the last quarter, on the basis of
measurable markets. The business also generated underlying operating profit of €9.4 billion and free cash flow of €7.7
billion, an increase of €1.5 billion.
“We progressed our strategic agenda, building on our existing sustainability commitments with ambitious new targets
and actions, most recently with our plans to help build a more equitable and inclusive society. We completed the
unification of our legal structure under a single parent company and we continue to work on separating out the tea
business as we evolve our portfolio.
“Today we are setting out our plans to drive long term growth through the strategic choices we are making and outlining
our multi-year financial framework. While volatility and unpredictability will continue throughout 2021, we begin the
year in good shape and are confident in our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.”
Foods & Refreshment underlying sales grew 1.3%, with 0.1% from volume and 1.1% from price. Our retail foods
business grew double digit, as restricted living led to more in-home eating occasions for consumers. Food solutions
declined by 30% as out of home channels remained closed for much of the year. Hellmann’s grew high-single digit,
supported by its Stay In(spired) campaign, and our plant-based brand The Vegetarian Butcher grew over 70%. Despite
significant decline in the out of home business due to channel closures, ice cream grewslightly overall as we rapidly
shifted resources towards the in-home business. Ben and Jerry’s performed strongly, teaming up with Netflix on its
new ‘Netflix and Chill’d’ variant. Tea grew low single digit.
Underlying operating margin in Foods & Refreshment declined by 50bps. The decline was driven by lower gross
margin, due to adverse mix impacts from out of home channel closures, costs related to Covid-19 and higher
commodity costs in the second half of the year.
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Editor, International Bakery
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