Unilever reports strong ecommerce sales growth, and warns of rising prices

Unilever’s prestige beauty business, which includes Dermologica, has led its ecommerce growth. Screenshot of Dermalogica.co.uk Unilever today reports that ecommerce sales grew by 44% in its latest financial year to account for 13% of its turnover.

The brand organisation has reorganised itself into five divisions – and is selling off its tea business. Ecommerce was a particularly big contributor to the sales of Unilever’s prestige beauty brands , in its beauty and personal care division.

During the year, Unilever bought US prestige skincare company Paula’s Choice, which already had an established direct-to-consumer ecommerce business, while existing brands include REN, Dermalogica and Tatcha. Dermalogica and REN, for example, have transactional brand websites, while its Hourglass beauty brand sells well via third party multichannel retailer Space NK.

In its home care division, meanwhile, Omo laundry liquid is the second leading ecommerce brand in its category in China. Indeed, double digit growth in Unilever’s brand sales in China were led by online sales.

The update comes as Unilever today reported turnover of €52.4bn (£44.1bn) in its 2021 financial year. That’s 3.4% up on the previous year. Net profit of €6.6bn (£5.6bn) was 9% up on the previous year. Fourth quarter turnover of €13.1bn (£11bn) was 8.4% ahead of last time.

Unilever said that it had seen its fastest underlying sales growth (+4.5%) in nine years, of which 2.9% was from price raises and 1.6% from volume – as it sold more products. In the fourth quarter alone, prices rose by 4.9%.

Looking ahead, the company expects sales to grow by between 4.5% and 6.5% in 2022 but wins that costs – from raw materials to energy – are likely to grow by €2bn in the first half of the year. That could subsequently moderate to €1.5bn, depending on how commodity, freight and packaging costs change and is likely […]

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