Huet was speaking on an earnings call explaining the fourth quarter results which saw a healthy performance in personal care and emerging markets, although profits were hit hard by rising costs.
“We saw particularly good performance in Personal Care, which is now a third of our business, with double-digit growth in Personal Care in the second half and 8 per cent for the year as a whole,” explained Huet.
Sales for the personal care division grew at the strongest rate of any of the four divisions during the fourth quarter, up 8.7 per cent on an underlying basis to €4.12bn.
Emerging market drive
The figure was also driven by the company’s continued emphasis and expansion into the emerging markets.
“Emerging markets continue to generate what we call outstanding top line performance. In fact, it's been an acceleration from recent years with underlying sales growth of 11.5 per cent overall,” said Huet.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant’s CFO pointed to the fact that many of its key countries in emerging markets achieved double-digit growth, including China, India, Turkey, South Africa and Mexico.
“For the full year, emerging markets, despite the Alberto Culver transaction, contributed 54 per cent of total group turnover. That's a record high. Volume growth was again strong. mid-single digit levels overall, but into double digits for key markets such as China as well as India,” he added.
Developed market lull
However, in the developed markets underlying sales growth was more subdued, reflecting the difficult consumer environment at present.
“At 0.8 per cent positive, our growth was broadly in line with the market as we see it. Our biggest developed markets, that's the US, Germany, UK and France, all saw underlying sales growth of anywhere between 1 per cent and 4 per cent,” commented Huet.
“In all cases, that is in line with or ahead of the local market, and in the case of France, if we can just mention specifically, significantly so,” he concluded.