Oct 19, 2017

Unilever needs more deals to weather competitive storm

As the sixth FTSE 350 group to mention the weather in nine days - after Rentokil Initial, Regus owner IWG, Merlin, Dunelm and Domino's Pizza - Unilever found its third quarter update met with a frosty reception. Unilever - given its unique exposure to ice cream, washing powder and deodorant - has some justification for waxing meteorological. In the US, challenger ice cream brand Halo Top took 5 per cent of the market - 1.5 of it from Unilever - in no time at all. Group sales grew at a below-target 2.6 per cent in the quarter, to €13.2bn. In response, Unilever says it is investing faster in acquisitions, and has now spent €8.2bn on 18 deals since 2015, which will add 1 percentage point to underlying sales growth. In departing chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and bereft chief executive Bob Dudley, it seems to have found two more.

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