Jun 12, 2019

New Unilever CEO Jope banks on recovery in sales growth

Unilever chief executive Alan Jope has for the first time offered hope that the maker of Dove soaps and Magnum ice creams will next year escape a period of stagnant sales that has dogged one of the world's largest consumer goods groups. The 54-year-old Scot, who succeeded Paul Polman in January, faces pressure from shareholders to reverse four years of slowing sales growth as Unilever struggles with challenges ranging from millennials ditching well-established brands to the growing popularity of new trends such as veganism. Mr Jope was clear that the elusive recovery in sales growth would not come from chasing the start-ups producing plant-based meats, such as Beyond Meat, that have dazzled on the stock market this year. Mr Jope's message on sales growth is likely be welcomed by investors, some of whom have questioned his decision to stick with Mr Polman's target of lifting operating margins to 20 per cent by 2020. Unilever has a clear path to the 20 per cent margin goal without sacrificing its push for faster sales growth, Mr Jope insisted.

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