Along with posting mostly positive sales results-Revlon and Unilever both surprised with substantial product news-Revlon’s refinancing charges led the company to post a $6.9 million loss.
Revlon’s first quarter sales, ended March 30, inched up to $331.9 million from $330.7 million, driven by the Revlon brand and its Sinful Colors and Pure Ice nail polish lines. Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede lipstick and PhotoReady BB Cream have been among the highlights, the company said. Excluding currency fluctuations of $5.9 million, sales grew 2.1%. However, a net earnings falloff due primarily to refinance fees and select market weaknesses led to a loss, compared with year-ago gains of $8.5 million.
To combat ongoing declines, the Almay brand is re-entering the lip category with Almay Color and Care liquid lip balm. It will also launch a CC cream and upgrade its eye makeup remover products. Almay has been bringing new graphics to the in-store presentation as well as upgrading packaging. “Lip is an increasingly hot category with future trends headed that direction,” commented Alan Ennis, Revlon’s President and CEO on Almay’s lip plans. Noting that balms are usually solid, he added, “this is a new form” that delivers “not just color but hydration.”
During the quarter, Revlon’s U.S. sales rose 4% to $192.1 million from $184.7 million. Sales in Latin America and Canada also grew, while Asia-Pacific was pulled down by declines in China despite higher sales in Japan. And, difficulties in France negatively impacted sales of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
Unilever enjoyed increases across its personal care portfolio in the first quarter, reporting underlying sales growth of 8.3% or an underlying volume growth of 5.6% to $5.7 billion (4.4 billion euro). Personal care, Unilever’s largest category, now accounts for 35% of its business.
Emerging markets grew faster than mature markets helped by product entries such as Pond’s Flawless White BB+ cream in Indonesia and Thailand and the expansion of TRESemme into India and Indonesia following its success in Brazil.
The company has been flexing its muscle in the men’s segment with the launch of Dove Men+Care face range into North America and Europe and the extension of Axe men’s face care into the U.S. Meanwhile the Axe Apollo hair and body collection has rocketed into 60 markets over the last three months, supported with a Buzz Aldrin promotion that will be sending 22 young men into space.
In other Dove activity, the mega brand was introduced in Mexico, added the Dove Damage Therapy hair care range and credited Dove Nutrium Moisture shower gels for helping boost overall skin care. The Clear Scalp & Hair brand, along with Simple skin care, have been “making progress” in the U.S., according to Unilever executives. Clear has also been growing in emerging markets.
Goings-on also include the entry of Nexxus Youth Renewal range in the U.S. and the expansion of Toni & Guy (TIGI) hair care for a total of 17 countries. Innovations under the Vaseline brand included the Spray & Go moisturizer in North America and a new range of facial washes in South East Asia.
“We maintained good growth momentum in the first quarter despite challenging economies and the tough competitive environment,” remarked Paul Polman, Unilever CEO. “This performance is further evidence that Unilever is becoming fit to win and capable of delivering consistent growth ahead of our markets.”