Anglo-Dutch food and consumer goods giant Unilever has reported rises in sales and net profit for the first quarter of 2005.

Turnover was €9.266bn (US$12bn), compared with €9.061bn a year ago. Net profit was €981m, compared with €802m.

 "We are making progress on the plans to improve top line performance," said chief executive Patrick Cescau. "The first stage was a step-up in market competitiveness, starting from the fourth quarter of last year. I am encouraged that we have had two
consecutive quarters of growth and that aggregate market shares are now stabilising."

"Our actions in the market place are now being supported by the transition to the new organisation announced in February, which is proceeding well," he said. "This year we expect market conditions to remain very challenging in Europe, and margins to continue to be under pressure from increased input costs. However, performance in developing and emerging markets was better, and here the outlook is more promising."