London-based Unilever said its turnover decreased 5.0% including an adverse translational currency impact of (8.9)%.
Speaking on the result, Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Polman says: “Our first half results show solid volume-driven growth across all three divisions, which was achieved despite the effects of an extended truckers’ strike in Brazil, one of our biggest markets. Growth was driven by strong innovation and continued expansion in future growth markets. The margin improvement was of high quality and in line with our strategy, driven by further gross margin progression, increased investment behind our brands and strong savings delivery.
“The Connected 4 Growth change programme – which makes our organisation more agile and resilient – is driving the step-up in our innovation and savings programmes. As part of the continued portfolio evolution, we completed the exit from spreads on 2 July 2018. In anticipation of the disposal proceeds, we have already returned €3 billion as part of our €6 billion share buyback programme that will complete before the end of the year. We have also signed an agreement to acquire a 75% stake in the Italian personal care business Equilibra.
“Our expectation for the full year is unchanged. We expect underlying sales growth in the 3% – 5% range, an improvement in underlying operating margin and strong cash flow. We remain on track for our 2020 goals.”