Consumer goods maker Unilever reports lower-than-expected fourth-quarter sales, blaming the demonetisation in India and weak economy in Brazil. Sonia Legg reports.
Its standoff with Tesco over 'Marmitegate' brought Unilever into the headlines last year. The price increases it sought to put through after falls in the value of sterling were met with strong resistance. But that wasn't their biggest problem. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY COOK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WORLD FIRST, SAYING: "Bad fourth quarter. They are tied up in India with the demonetisation programme, anyone involved in India is going to have had a pretty bad Q4, plus Brazil, the weakness that we've seen there." The consumer goods maker reported a 2.2 percent increase in sales - analysts had expected 2.8 per cent. That overshadowed turnover of 13.1 billion euros, up on the year from 12.9. As a result shares fell 4.5 per cent, Unilever's worst day in almost a year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY COOK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WORLD FIRST, SAYING: "A lot of consumers in emerging market countries dial down their desires for higher end products, they are not willing to spend money on the Dove soap for example or the Tresemme shampoo which are at the core of the Unilever product offering." Unilever's in the process of revamping its structure and operations to cut costs. It also sees prices recovering in Europe - where sales fell 2.3 percent. Growth of between 3 and 5 percent is still expected for 2017 but not in the early part of the year.