Unilever posts profit increase thanks to ‘stand-out’ ice cream sale

Unilever which has a large factory in Gloucester. Its chief executive is retiring

Hot weather last year certainly did wonders for Unilever PLC which has posted a significant increase in profits thanks to ice cream sales in Europe.

The consumer goods company, which makes ice creams such as Magnums and Viennetta at a factory in Gloucester, reported a pre-tax profit of €12.38 billion, up 53% from €8.15 billion in 2017.

Unilever said that this was the result of improved margins, with its underlying operating margin improved to 24.6% from 16.5%.

In the hot summer weather, the firm’s ice cream brands performed well, with good growth in German ice cream sales helping to offer a decline in savoury and dressings sales. Ice cream was also the only category of Unilever product sales that did not decline in France.

Read more: Work starts on transformation of Gloucester’s King’s Quarter

Unilever’s revenue fell to €50.98 billion in 2018 from €53.72 billion in 2017, due to currency headwinds and the disposal of its spreads business in July, it said.

Unilever declared a final dividend of €0.3872, up 8.0% from €0.3585 a year before.

“Looking forward, accelerating growth will be our number one priority. With so many of our brands enjoying leadership positions, we have significant opportunities to develop our markets, as well as to benefit from our deep global reach and purpose-led brands,” said Unilever Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope.

“In 2019 we expect market conditions to remain challenging. We anticipate underlying sales growth will be in the lower half of our multi-year 3% to 5% range, with continued improvement in underlying operating margin and another year of strong free cash. We remain on track for our 2020 goals,” Jope added.