Unilever said it was comfortable it would meet its financial targets for 2003 and that it expected first-quarter sales growth from its top brands of 4% to 5%.

In a trading update covering the first two months of 2003 the Anglo-Dutch consumer group, with brands such as Knorr soups, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Dove soap , said it expected underlying sales growth of around 3%.

Head of investor relations Howard Green said growth from personal care and foods were delivering as expected and on track to deliver double digit earnings per share growth for the year.

Green added that Unilever saw no material impact on its performance from the war in Iraq at the moment.