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Unilever CEO points to Alberto Culver integration as catalyst for US hair care success

By Andrew McDougall , 07-Feb-2012
Last updated on 07-Feb-2012 at 17:18 GMT

Unilever CEO Paul Polman
Unilever CEO Paul Polman

Following strong fourth quarter results buoyed by a healthy performance in Personal Care, Unilever CEO Paul Polman has revealed his delight at the company’s position in in the US hair care market, thanks in no small part to its Alberto Culver brand.

The Anglo-Dutch company has been no stranger to integrating acquired brands into its portfolio following a string of buy-outs in the past couple of years, and Polman point's out that the Alberto Culver one in particular is beginning to deliver results.

“With Alberto Culver, the organization has done an outstanding job integrating it and we've now taken, as a result, hair care leadership in the US, alongside the leadership we already have in such categories like deodorants and skin cleansing,” he said on an earnings call, discussing the company’s Q4 results.

Results on track

“We've hit some demanding timelines in full and are on track to achieve a higher level of synergies than we anticipated,” Polman commented, explaining that the success of the Alberto Culver integration has become the blueprint for the company’s other acquisitions.

As well as Alberto Culver’s success in the US hair care market, Unilever has worked hard to rapidly introduce its other acquired hair care brands into new markets.

TRESemmé just launched in Brazil as well as in Thailand, and the Motions hair care brand is being expanded into South America.

Acquisitions are key

Polman also believes that Unilever’s other recent acquisitions have also strengthened its Personal Care business.

“With Sara Lee, we now span all the price points in the European skin cleansing market, strengthening our portfolio at the value end,” he said.

“More recently, we were very fortunate to add Kalina in Russia to the portfolio. We were a distant player now but are becoming, in one stroke, a serious challenger in the important and fast-growing Russian Personal Care market.”

Strong personal care sales

Unilever fourth quarter results showed that sales continue to power ahead on a healthy performance in personal care and emerging markets.

Underlying sales in the final quarter grew by 6.5 per cent to reach €11.56m ($15.25m), driven by the fact that pricing added 4.8 percent to the results, while volume growth contributed around 1.0 per cent.

Sales for the personal care division grew at the strongest rate of any of the four divisions during the period, up 8.7 percent on an underlying basis to €4.12bn.

The figure was driven by the company’s continued emphasis and expansion into the emerging markets, underlined by the fact that sales in those markets during the quarter delivered 11.5 percent underlying growth.

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