Unilever has reported disappointing sales over the past year.
The consumer goods firm stated that sales fell by 2.7 per cent to €48.4 billion (£37.1 billion), which fell below the company's expectation for the full year. Unilever, which makes a wide range of consumer products including Ben & Jerry's ice-cream and Dove soap, explained that a lower demand for its brands in emerging markets had resulted in a slowing of growth.
Emerging markets are a key demographic for Unilever. The company makes over half of its sales in these regions but 2014 had been a challenging year for these areas. Growth had slowed in China while Brazil and Russia had been hit by recession and western sanctions respectively. This meant that underlying sales growth in these regions had dropped to 5.7 per cent.
This decline had a knock-on effect with Unilever's full-year sales, which fell well short of analyst predictions of a 3.1 per cent rise. The company admitted that it had experienced tough trading conditions during the past 12 months and will endeavour to improve its performance in 2015, aiming to get back to growth.
Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, said in a statement: "Despite a challenging year for our industry with significant economic headwinds and weak markets we have delivered another year of competitive underlying sales growth and margin expansion.
"This consistency, now established over the last six years, has been achieved during a period of high volatility as we have built a more resilient company."
Unilever's latest trading update prompted a drop in the company's share price, down 2.20 per cent as of 09:41 GMT on Tuesday (January 20th). The share price has been on a decline throughout the past week culminating in the announcement of the disappointing sales figures.
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