THE HAGUE -- Despite a 3% fall in sales Unilever (IW 1000/59) reported an 11% rise in net profit for 2013 on Tuesday.
Net profit amounted to 4.84 billion euros (US$6.56 billion).
Sales totaled 49.8 billion euros, undermined mainly by unfavorable exchange rates and also by the effect of asset sales. However, if the effect of asset sales were stripped out of the results to give a strictly comparable figure, sales rose by 4.3%.
Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods and owns a variety of brands such as Lipton Yellow Label tea, Magnum ice cream, Knorr, Omo washing powder, Vaseline and Dove. Founded in 1930, the Dutch group employs some 173,000 people around the world.
"Growth continued to slow in emerging markets as a result of the impact of economic uncertainty and currency depreciation on consumer demand," Unilever said.
Emerging markets were nevertheless leading sales increases, up 8.4% at constant rates compared to a 1.7% drop in developed markets, the company added.
The Rotterdam-based group has invested massively in developing markets to compensate for the crisis in Europe and the United States, Developing markets now account for more than half of sales.
Despite overall slowing growth, some developing markets saw expanding sales growth, including China, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey.
European sales dropped 1.1% at constant rates in 2013.
"Developed markets remained weak with little sign of any overall improvement despite the more positive macro-economic indicators in recent months," it said.
Global fourth-quarter sales were in line with the rest of the year, up 4.1% to 11.8 billion euros.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014