Unilever continues to gain share in personal care in North America, despite aggressive competition particularly in hair care. Revlon, meanwhile, credits Revlon brand cosmetics and Color Silk hair color for a 1.1 percent uptick in organic sales, although the U.S. market continues to disappoint.
Both companies said severe currency fluctuations in several markets dampened overall net sales in the third quarter.
For Unilever’s third quarter, total company sales fell 6.5% to 12.5 billion euros ($17.2 billion) with underlying sales growth up 3.2%. Personal care, with sales of 4.48 billion euro ($6.18 billion) had underlying sales growth of 5.8%. Globally, personal care is on track to grow 8% this year.
One of Unilever’s fastest growing hair brands, Toni & Guy Hair Meet Wardobe, will enter the U.S. nationwide in January (it entered Target exclusively here in September), while the global rollout of Dove Repair Expertise continues. “Our hair products continue to perform well and are hitting the mark in most (segments) in the U.S.,” noted Paul Polman, Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer. And, due to the success of Vaseline body sprays, the company is adding a spray form to the men’s collection and other ranges. Across its portfolio, Unilever plans to double the number of “high impact” launches next year.
Slowing growth and devalued currencies in emerging markets, coupled with unstable political and economic conditions in the U.S., are having a negative impact globally, according to Jean-Marc Huet, Unilever Chief Financial Officer. “Fifty million people in the U.S. are on food stamps,” he pointed out. To compensate for losses in select emerging markets and categories, Unilever is implementing price increases by shrinking packages, rather than by raising MSRPs.
Revlon’s net sales in the quarter ended Sept. 30 slid 2.2% to $339.4 million, but posted net income of $9.5 million, up from a $15 million loss in the year ago period. However, the company missed analyst estimates sending the stock down more than 3% during morning trading.
Interim CEO David Kennedy, who took the reins following the sudden departure of Alan Ennis Oct. 1, said integration of the newly acquired Colomer Group is a top priority. Purchased for $665 million, the addition is expected to deliver combined net sales of $2 billion, provide cost synergies, enter the company into the professional hair and nail channels with the American Crew and CND brands, and also benefit product development. “The most complicated part of the integration is with the people as we look for cost reductions,” he admitted. There was no mention of a permanent successor to Ennis.
Despite strong sales of Revlon Colorsilk hair color and key items such as Colorstay Ultimate Suede lipstick, the company’s overall business shrunk in the U.S. with net sales down 3.2% to $185.8 million.
Weakness in Almay persists as new packaging, graphics and merchandising get underway.
With category-wide nail growth slowing compared to earlier double-digit jumps, Revlon CFO Chris Elshaw assured it is still healthy. “It is clear that the nail category is significantly bigger than it was in the past and we have multiple successful franchises with more innovation coming.”
Despite weakness of Pantene and Olay in the U.S., Procter & Gamble posted a first quarter net profit gain of 5% to $690 million. The firm reported organic beauty sales growth of 1% in the quarter with net sales down 1% to $4.9 billion. Grooming saw a 1% uptick in organic sales, while net sales fell 3% to $1.95 billion. Companywide organic sales rose 4%, with net sales up 2% to $21.2 billion, and net earnings of $1.05 per share, down from $1.06 as expected.
Jon Moeller, chief financial officer, spoke on the analyst call for the firm’s first quarter 2014 results, noting P&G’s cosmetics business and its facial cleansing businesses “are doing extremely well.” And, new packaging and commercial innovation on Pantene has spurred growth of the brand in Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America where shipments were up double digits in the quarter. Still, he said, there is “more work to do on Pantene, skin care and the salon professional businesses.”
P&G will increase marketing spend through the year, but it will be modestly less as a percentage of sales than before. On the topic of heightened competitive spending, Jon stressed P&G will remain competitive, but “will not lead an escalation.” Across all its categories, product moved on promotion was down 7% from last year, he noted.“We would rather put the dollar into innovation or equity.”
Procter & Gamble will unfurl a “strong slate of initiatives” into the beauty category beginning December.
Additionally, P&G is accelerating its employee reduction program, implementing supply chain efficiencies and making packaging changes to save money. “We are making savings an ongoing part of our business ethos,” said Jon.