The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group said pre-tax profit rose to 4bn euros at current exchange rates from 3.6bn euros last year. Sales fell 7% to 48.7bn euros in the wake of disposals such as Iberia Foods as the group looks to its 'Path to Growth' strategy.
Unilever said sales of its leading brands such as Hellmann's mayonnaise, Knorr soups, Ragu sauces, Dove soap and Calvin Klein personal care grew 5.4%. and now account for 89% of group sales.
The company said strong cashflow from operating activities with disposal proceeds and lower interest rates reduced interest by 22% to 1.3bn euros.
A further 120m euros was saved in the third quarter by shifting to regional purchasing to get better terms from suppliers to reach its target for total savings in this area to 1.6bn euros.
It noted that strong innovation and further cost savings gave it confidence that its 2004 Path to Growth targets will be achieved in full.