Unilever reports full year 2023 results with focus on sustainability and growth

Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, has unveiled its financial performance for the fiscal year 2023, showcasing a robust underlying sales growth of 7.0%. Despite encountering challenges like adverse currency impacts and net disposals, Unilever achieved a turnover of €59.6 billion, marking a notable achievement. Key highlights of the report include a 60 basis points increase in underlying operating margin to 16.7%, with significant improvements in gross margin. CEO Hein Schumacher acknowledged the progress but stressed the need for enhanced competitiveness and execution.

A pivotal aspect of Unilever’s strategy is the Growth Action Plan, aimed at driving higher-quality growth, productivity, and fostering a performance-oriented culture. The plan encompasses initiatives such as focusing on 30 Power Brands, accelerating portfolio optimization efforts, and increasing brand investment. Unilever anticipates modest improvement in underlying sales growth for 2024, maintaining a multiyear range of 3% to 5%, with a balanced approach between volume and price.

Unilever House, London

Under the Growth Action Plan, Unilever emphasizes several key strategies. These include intensifying focus on 30 Power Brands, driving brand superiority through innovative methodologies, scaling multiyear innovation programmes, and selectively optimizing the portfolio through acquisitions and disposals.

Moreover, Unilever is committed to enhancing productivity and simplicity across its operations. Efforts in this regard include building back gross margin through improved productivity measures, sharpening sustainability commitments, and driving organizational benefits by implementing category-focused business groups.

In terms of performance culture, Unilever has witnessed significant leadership changes aimed at addressing opportunities and challenges with urgency and decisiveness. Notably, Chief People & Transformation Officer Nitin Paranjpe will retire, with Mairéad Nayager appointed as the new Chief People Officer.

In its overall performance breakdown, Unilever reports strong growth across various segments. Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, and Home Care segments registered substantial underlying sales growth, driven by a combination of volume and price increases. Noteworthy is the growth in emerging markets, which contributed significantly to the company’s overall performance.

However, challenges persist in developed markets, particularly in Europe, where Unilever faced volume declines attributed to private label competition and consumer shifts to premium segments. Despite these challenges, Unilever remains committed to reshaping its portfolio, emphasizing premium segments through acquisitions and divesting lower-growth businesses.

Looking ahead, Unilever remains focused on its commitment to sustainability and growth, aiming to navigate through market challenges while capitalizing on opportunities for innovation and expansion. With a strong financial foundation and strategic initiatives in place, Unilever is poised to continue its journey towards sustainable growth and value creation.