Unilever has reported a 3% increase in half-year pre-tax profit to E2.74bn (£1.84bn) on sales up 1% at E20bn (£13.4bn).

The company also said it planned to dispose of E2bn (£1.34bn) of turnover including its North American laundry operation and step up innovation, particularly in personal care products.

All its categories “grew well” in the first half year, Unilever said, with the strongest performances in personal care, tea and household cleaning. Savoury, ice cream and laundry also “contributed strongly”.

In the UK, sales were in line with last year with growth in deodorants, household care, tea and dressings but share loss in fabric conditioners and hair care and lower sales in ice cream.

“Growth remains our number one priority,” said Group CEO Patrick Cescau. “The steps we are taking now support this agenda by enhancing innovation, more aggressively shaping our portfolio and driving still harder towards a more efficient cost and asset base.”