Unilever has reported a 19% increase in half-year pre-tax profit to E2,661m, on sales up 6% at E19,793m.

In Europe, it said that underlying sales grew by 0.3%, while the UK returned to modest levels of growth.

Patrick Cescau, group chief executive of Unilever, added: “Conditions in Western Europe remain tough, but demand has picked up slightly and we are growing in line with our markets in aggregate.”