A slump in ice cream sales has prompted Unilever to scrap its growth targets for the year but the consumer goods giant said the pandemic had also brought people flocking to its trusted hygiene and food brands (The Times £). The company behind a host of well known household brands including Domestos and Magnum ice creams has reported flat sales despite surge in stockpiling of its products from supermarkets (Sky News).
Unilever is pressing ahead with its dividend despite warning that it faces a ‘new normal’ after the virus crisis subsides (The Daily Mail).
Shoppers are shunning shampoo and deodorant as personal grooming takes a backseat during lockdown, according to the maker of Lynx (The Telegraph). Unilever said about a quarter of personal care — such as hair washing, hairstyling and use of skincare products and deodorants — was used by people preparing to go to work or school. Homeworking was cutting into demand for products in these areas. (The Financial Times £)
The coronavirus pandemic will trigger “lasting changes” in shopping behaviour, according to one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of grocery brands (The Guardian). Unilever expects the Covid-19 pandemic to trigger ‘lasting changes’ in shopper behaviour, it said while revealing its latest first quarter results (The Daily Mail).
Alistair Osborne in The Times (£) writes: “Apart from the small food service wing feeding restaurants, the only bit of the group seeing a minor meltdown is ice-cream. Unilever has the financial clout to ride out Covid-19.”
For a company that was championing handwashing long before coronavirus, Unilever has missed its moment spectacularly. In the past quarter people around the globe have been washing their hands with all the gusto of Lady Macbeth, yet the maker of Lifebuoy soap and Cif household cleaner saw underlying sales rise precisely zero per cent. Peers, including Procter & Gamble, nearly all beat Unilever’s modest growth in homecare sales. (The Financial Times £)
The UK’s competition watchdog has cleared the £6bn merger of Just Eat and Takeaway.com, just days after giving provisional approval to Amazon’s investment in rival food delivery app Deliveroo (The Financial Times £). The UK monopolies watchdog officially cleared the merger of the meal delivery platforms Just Eat and Takeaway.com as the combined group raised €700 million in new capital (The Times £). The CMA’s investigation found there was ‘not a material likelihood’ that Takeaway would have re-entered the UK in the future, had the merger not gone ahead (The Daily Mail). The pair were forced to operate as two independent businesses, to the fury of some investors who accused the CMA of failing to grasp the market (Sky News).
The FT’s Lombard column writes: “Covid-19 gets the CMA off the hook. It would be a bold but deaf regulator that made trouble for the businesses that have enabled restaurants to keep cooking and home-cooks in lockdown to take a night off.” (The Financial Times £)
Pret A Manger is in talks to raise a €100m urgent loan from global banks as the UK fast-food chain owned by JAB Holding attempts to restart and transform its business after an extended period of closure, according to three people with direct knowledge of the funding. (The Financial Times £)
Businesses have been given “a licence not to pay rent” after the government banned landlords from taking action against tenants who don’t pay as a result of the coronavirus (The Times £). Commercial property landlords in the UK have been temporarily banned from taking legal action against tenants who have not paid their rent, to protect retailers and other businesses from “aggressive rent collection” during the coronavirus crisis (The Guardian).
Eight in 10 workers in the UK accommodation and food services sector have been furloughed, according to a survey. (The Guardian)
At the beginning of March, before the lockdown, Bernstein, tipped Sainsbury to its clients. Those who listened would be sitting on a small paper profit, with the stock having nudged higher over the past six weeks or so. (The Times £)
Coronavirus has been a double-edged sword for London-based coffee chain Grind, which has seen online sales “explode” but sales in its restaurants fall from around £250,000 a week to £0. (The Telegraph)
Americans under lockdown are starting to get tired of cooking and are spending some of their upcoming $1,200 stimulus cheques on takeaways, according to Domino’s Pizza. (The Financial Times £)
Domino’s Pizza said on Thursday that US same-store sales rose 1.6% during the first quarter. That marks the slowest quarterly sales growth in nine years. But it is a more than decent performance. Especially when compared to the sales collapse forecast for chains that rely largely on dine-in customers. (The Financial Times £)