Unilever (ULVR) has announced that its longstanding CEO Paul Polman will retire in 2019 to be replaced as by currency president of its beauty & personal care division Alan Jope.
Jope will take over as CEO on 1 January 2019 with Polman staying to oversee a transition in the first half of the year before leaving in early July.
Polman has been Unilever CEO for over 10 years, with Unilever pointing out he has delivered “consistent top and bottom line growth ahead of its markets”.
The company said: “Its focus on successfully pioneering a new model of sustainable growth has served the needs of its many stakeholders and created excellent returns for its shareholders, delivering a total shareholder return of 290% over that period.”
Jope has led Unilever’s largest division since 2014 and has been part of its leadership executive since 2011.
He previously ran the company’s North Asia business for four years, served as president, Russia, Africa & Middle East, and spent over a decade in senior foods, home care and personal care roles for Unilever US having joined the company as a graduate marketing trainee in 1985.
Unilever Chairman Marijn Dekkers said: “Paul is an exceptional business leader who has transformed Unilever, making it one of the best-performing companies in its sector, and one of the most admired businesses in the world. His role in helping to define a new era of responsible capitalism, embodied in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, marks him out as one of the most far-sighted business leaders of his generation.
“Paul’s vision, drive and performance focus, combined with his commitment to serving the best long-term interests of the company, have materially strengthened Unilever. He leaves a more agile and resilient company, well placed to win in this fast-changing, dynamic industry.”
“After a rigorous and wide-ranging selection process, the board is delighted to appoint Alan to the role. Having worked for Unilever in a variety of senior management roles, Alan has a deep understanding and experience of our business, the industry, and the markets in which we operate. He is a strong, dynamic and values-driven leader with an impressive track record of delivering consistent high-quality performance.”
Polman added: “I congratulate Alan on his appointment and look forward to working with him on the transition. Having worked closely with Alan for many years, I am highly confident that under his leadership, Unilever will prosper long into the future. His appointment demonstrates the strength of Unilever’s succession planning and talent pipeline.
“It has been an honour to lead Unilever over the last 10 years. Throughout this time, I have been humbled by the commitment and hard work of our people, and their passion for creating a truly purpose-driven company. I am very grateful to them, as I am to Unilever’s many other stakeholders, with whom we have worked to build our long-term, sustainable business. I look forward to engaging with many of these partners - in a different capacity - to help address the many environmental and social challenges facing the world.”
Jope commented: “It will be a huge privilege to lead Unilever - a truly global company full of talented people, and brilliant brands. Over the 30 years I have worked at Unilever, I have seen the many ways in which our brands improve people’s lives, positively impacting more than 2 billion citizens every day.
“Our global footprint includes strong positions in many important markets for the future and our focus will remain on serving our consumers, and our other multiple stakeholders, to deliver long-term growth and value creation.
“I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Paul for his remarkable leadership of Unilever and look forward to working closely with him during the transition.”
A successor to the role of President, Beauty & Personal Care will be announced shortly.
Unilever shares are up 0.7% to 4,285.5p in early trading.
Britvic (BVIC) has reported annual revenues growth of 5.1% driven by increased sales Robinsons and J20 and increased post-sugar tax market share for Pepsi.
In the year to 30 September overall revenues increased 5.1% to £1.5bn.
GB stills organic revenue was up 4.2% in the full year, with strong momentum in the second half due to a “significantly improved” performance for Robinsons and J2O offsetting a decline in Fruit Shoot.
GB carbonates organic revenue increased 4.9% with both volume and organic price growth, resulting in a 7.4% increase in organic brand contribution. Pepsi, led by no sugar MAX, continued to grow revenue and gain market share. R Whites, Tango and 7UP Free revenue also increased, benefiting from the sugar levy accelerating the trend towards low and no sugar brands.
Britvic said the introduction of the sugar levy and its own transparent approach to differential pricing has accelerated the consumer trend of switching away from higher sugar drinks into low and no added sugar alternatives.
With 99% of its owned brands in GB now below or exempt from the SDIL (90% of total portfolio including PepsiCo brands), Britvic said it remains confident in its long-standing health strategy and its approach to the levy.
Internationally organic revenue increased by 14.6% in the second half of the year, following a 6.5% decline in the first half. Consequently, full year organic revenue increased 4.9%.
The growth was due to further expansion in the United States, a strong performance in the export channel and improved profitability in Benelux, partly offset by declines in Asia and the Middle East.
Adjusted EBIT increased 5.4% with organic adjusted EBIT was up 4.% to £206m, while organic adjusted EBIT margin increased 10bps
Profit after tax increased 4.9% to £117.1m.
CEO Simon Litherland commented: “We have delivered a strong performance in a challenging environment, with good revenue, margin and earnings growth. I am delighted that we have grown our stills brands, demonstrating that our investment in innovation and marketing is beginning to pay off. The investment in the transformational business capability programme is now nearing completion and is already delivering significant efficiency and commercial benefits. Free cash flow will increase materially in 2019 as capital spend falls back towards normal levels.
“Britvic has consistently demonstrated that we are a strong, agile business, operating in a resilient category. In 2019 we have exciting plans for our portfolio of leading brands across our markets. Whilst political and economic uncertainty will undoubtedly continue, we are confident we will continue our long-term track record of growing earnings, dividends and shareholder value.”
Brewer and pub company Greene King (GNK) has grown revenues by 1.9% in the first half of the year to £1.05bn driven by strong sales of its owned pubs and its brewing and brands division.
This sales growth, as well as the reduction in interest costs from the ongoing Spirit debenture refinancing programme, offset the underlying cost pressures and enabled group profit before tax and non-underlying and exceptional items to increase by 0.2% to £128.2m.
In the 24 weeks to 14 October 2018 its Pub Company division delivered total sales of £850.3m, up 1.6% from 2.4% fewer pubs. However its Pub Partners revenue was down 1.3% to £90.9m due to 4.6% fewer pubs trading year-on-year.
Brewing & Brands revenue was up 7.5% to £110.0m following the good summer weather and the World Cup. Operating profit in the division was up 1.4%, while the operating profit margin was down 0.9% due to mix, with an increased sales contribution coming from third party beers.
CEO Rooney Anand said: “We have seen continued positive momentum in Pub Company, which was sustained beyond the boost of the World Cup and the summer weather. The hard work of our teams, combined with the investments we made to improve our customer experience, is driving sales outperformance to the market.
“We remain highly cash generative, meeting our debt repayment requirements, investing in our pubs and paying an attractive, sustainable dividend out of operating free cashflow. Good progress was made refinancing the Spirit debenture, which will reduce the cost of our debt and increase the strength and flexibility of our balance sheet.
“Looking forward, Christmas bookings are up on last year and we look forward to ensuring customers have a great time celebrating the festive season in our pubs. Ongoing uncertainty around Brexit may impact on consumer confidence, but as a team we are focused on our key strategic priorities and remain confident of our outlook for the financial year.”
Retail payments group PayPoint (PAY) has reported a 1.6% decline in net revenue to £55.6m in the six months to 30 September.
Net revenue of £55.6m was down 1.6% on a reported basis, but PayPoint highlighted underlying growth of £1.8 million, or 3.2% increase, excluding a £2.2m impact from the closure of Department of Work and Pensions’ Simple Payment Service and a £0.5m hit from revised Yodel commercial terms.
Underlying net revenue growth was achieved from PayPoint’s growth areas of UK Retail services which increased by £0.4m to £18.9m and Romania which increased by £1.7m to £6.8m partially offset by UK bill payments and top-ups which reduced by only £0.3m.
Profit before tax improved to £25.3m, an increase of £0.9m from £24.4m for the same period last year.
The improved profits include a £1.7m benefit from improved VAT recovery following the VAT tribunal ruling in 2017.
CEO Dominic Taylor said: “I’m pleased with the progress PayPoint has made over the past six months. We are executing against the roadmap and our strategic priorities outlined in May, delivering underlying net revenue growth of 3.2% and reported profit before tax growth of 4.0%. The business also continues to innovate in an evolving retail and payments environment, developing new technologies and propositions that are transforming the way our customers operate and run their businesses.
“The roll out of PayPoint One has continued at pace, expanding to 11,2463 sites and with EPoS Pro now live in 4783 sites. We remain on target to achieve 12,400 PayPoint One sites by 31 March 2019. Service fee revenue from PayPoint One also grew by 39.8% in the period, contributing to the increase in underlying net revenue, with the new terminal providing tangible benefits for our retailers, enabling retailers to drive increased profitability and efficiency in their stores.
“The good performance of the first half underpins the Board’s confidence that as PayPoint’s growth drivers continue to develop there will be progression in profit before tax for the full financial year to 31 March 2019.”
On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is up 0.75% to 7,057.2pts.
Britvic has jumped 5.7% to 827.1p on this morning’s strong results, while Greene King is up 4.9% to 532.5p and PayPoint is up 4.7% to 832.3p.
Yesterday in the City
The FTSE 100 fell back 0.2% to 7,004.5pts yesterday after a generally downbeat day for consumer stocks.
Cranswick (CWK) fell back 3.3% to 2,780p after posting a slowdown in first half growth earlier this year.
Other fallers included SSP Group (SSPG), down 2.9% to 616.5p, Premier Foods (PFD), down 2.2% to 36.25p, Greencore (GNC), down 1.9% to 188.4p and Britic ahead of its annual results this morning, down 1.5% to 782.5p.
Ocado (OCDO) was one of the few bright spots for the grocery sector, rising 2.1% to 833.4p, while Greggs (GRG) was up 1.6% to 1,395p, Just Eat (JE) rose 1.9 to 589p, Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), rose 1% to 2,397p and Sainsbury’s (SBRY) was up 0.8% to 318p.