Unilever hints price rises, ruling out big M&A deals


FMCG giant Unilever has signalled customers may face further price rises as its own costs continue to surge.

The parent company of Dove and Ben and Jerry’s also revealed it has ruled out big acquisitions following recent criticism by investors of its failed pursuit the £50 billion deal of the consumer health arm of GlaxoSmithKline.

Instead, Unilever decided to buy back up to €3 billion of shares over the next two years.

READ MORE: Unilever plans to cut 1,500 jobs in major restructuring

“We have engaged extensively with our shareholders in recent weeks and received a strong message that the evolution of our portfolio needs to be measured,” Unilever chief executive Alan Jope said in a statement.

In its fourth quarter the FMCG business reported a 4.9% increase in underlying sales, crediting the Covid-19 pandemic forcing people to continue to eat at home. This figure beat analysts’ mean expectations for 3.8% growth in a company poll.

For the whole of year, underlying sales increased by 4.5%, the strongest for nine years.

Jope added: “We are focused on driving faster growth from our strong portfolio of brands and markets, and recently announced a major change to create a simpler, more category-focused organisation designed to further improve performance”.

“In 2022, we will manage a significant input cost inflation cycle and will continue to invest competitively in marketing, R&D and capital expenditure.”

Net profits rose 9% to £5.6 billion (€6.6 billion), however at the same time shares fell 3% at the open.

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