Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has said that its top brand sales were behind target during the first two months of the year but added that it was still confident of meeting its 2003 financial targets and saw no impact from the war in Iraq.

Unilever, which owns brands such as Knorr and Hellmann’s, said group earnings and sales of its top 400 brands were behind target in January and February. The company said it expected first-quarter earnings of 5%, compared to its 2003 target of just over 10%, and first-quarter sales of its leading brands up 4-5%, compared with its long-term target of 5-6%.

Howard Green, the group’s head of investor relations said the company was not expecting any impact from the war in Iraq.

“At this stage we see no material impact on the quarter or on the outlook for the full year,” Green was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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