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Unilever has a volume problem

by LLB Reporter
9th Feb 23 11:15 am

Has Unilever put its prices up too much? That’s the question after it once again reported a rise in revenues and a decline in sales volumes. While consumers have got used to everything costing a bit more in the shops, there is still a point where certain items become unaffordable, or where the price-point for a cheaper alternative is too good to ignore.

AJ Bell’s Russ Mould said: “Even though Unilever boasts some of the world’s most-loved brands, sometimes consumers have no other choice but to plump for generic versions due to their financial circumstances. And if you listen to what supermarkets have been saying recently, own-label products are flying off the shelves.

“Outgoing chief executive Alan Jope can boast ‘strong topline growth’ as his legacy, but under the bonnet it’s plain to see falling margins, declining sales volumes, and a confused approach to strategy.

“Jope’s replacement, Hein Schumacher, joins in July, by which time we may well see widespread evidence of inflation easing, but whether Unilever brings its prices back down is another thing.

“The new boss will need to think quickly about this point, as well as defining what Unilever should look like over the next decade. As ever with a business that has so many moving parts, we aren’t likely to see any radical changes for at least a year, but Schumacher’s in-tray is already going to be full before he’s even stepped in the door.”

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