Blog: Katy AskewPolman confident on Unilever brands

Katy Askew | 13 June 2011

Paul Polman, chief executive of consumer goods giant Unilever, has insisted that the company can achieve double-digit sales growth excluding M&A, meaning that the group would have to generate organic growth of an industry-beating 7-8%.

In an interview with The Financial Times this weekend, Polman said that the company was currently generating 95% of its growth through its own brands. And, Poleman said, the company will rely on these to drive future expansion and meet sales targets. Fighting talk indeed.

Admittedly, Unilever does own some mighty brands - ranging from Magnum, Hellmann's and Knorr in the food sector to Dove and Lynx personal care products. And Poleman's plans to capitalise on "white space" - moving brands into markets that they are not currently represented in - sound all well and good.

"Market development is probably one of the biggest drivers that we see, in these emerging markets especially. These markets are often one tenth of the markets that we see here in Europe and the US, and they're rapidly catching up," he told the FT.

However, in setting the group such high targets - ones that the company's peers such as Nestle and Danone have been unable to deliver - at a time when global consumer confidence is far from high, does seem rather bullish. And while Unilever's aim to extend the reach of its brands is certainly sound, does this emerging markets strategy really bring anything new to the table? Only time will tell.



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