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Unilever returns to profit ways

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
George Owusu-Ansah

ONE of the country’s oldest manufacturer of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Unilever Ghana, has returned to profit ways after a year of losses.

The company’s operating profit for the year 2021 stood at GH¢2.8 million, a significant improvement over the same period in 2020 when it posted a loss of GH¢22 million.

Profit after tax for the year was GH¢0.4 million versus a loss after tax of GH¢50 million posted in the prior year, 2020.

The Board Chairman, Edward Effah, in the company statement said, “The group’s result for the year under review also revealed a 23 per cent increase in revenue from GH¢456 million in 2020 to GH¢559 million in 2021.

The growth is attributable to the sustained momentum generated throughout the year and driven by volume and price increases and improved innovations.”

MD’s report

Further explaining the operations of the company in the review in review, the Managing Director, George Owusu-Ansah said, “In 2021, we focused on further cementing the work we began in 2020 to correct and stabilise our operations following our challenges of 2019.

We continued the journey to rediscover our greatness. We did this against the backdrop of a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a worsening global economic and business environment.”

Sustainability work

Mr Owusu-Ansah said the company continued to invest and build the equity of its brands for the future; focused on serving the “Mainstream” consumer; maintained momentum on to innovate and strengthened its Route- to- Market; cement its governance and operational discipline; as well as stayed on point with corporate plan to make “our organisation purpose lead and future fit.”

“Our operations was not spared the challenge of the high and rapidly increasing cost of raw materials and sea freight. This put the margins and pricing of our products under severe pressure.

We responded by challenging our costs, reducing waste and improving our efficiency,” he said.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, the company provided the necessary support to protect its staff and their families from the threat of the pandemic.

“We implemented COVID-19 preventive protocols at the site to protect those who necessarily had to work from the site and support for staff working from home and our field teams.

Beauty, Personal Care (BPC)

Giving specifics about the performance of the company’s product categories, Mr Owusu-Ansah said the BPC achieved underlying sales growth of 26.8 per cent driven by all subcategories.

“We sustained media investment to improve brand power, as well as mental and physical availability.

Purpose led activities around Pepsodent and Lifebuoy continued in earnest. We reached over 1.5 million mothers and kids, sharing with them good oral and personal hygiene practices,” he said.

Home Care (HC)

The HC category, he said, achieved underlying sales growth of 24.8 per cent despite what he described as stiff competition.

“The category focused on margin improvement through a mix of product logic initiatives, price increases and grammage reductions to recover from commodity cost increases.

The HC continued to build equity and drive mental availability by sustaining media support across all touch points. We aggressively drove our purpose led programmes through the rollout of “Sunlight Sheroes” and the Key soap Songtaa Livelihood Campaigns,” he said.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said to further drive growth of the category and remain competitive, Omo Antibacterial and Key Brilliant 140g bars were introduced.

Foods and Refreshment

For the foods and refreshment category, he said that segment of the business achieved an underlying sales growth of 23.5 per cent in the year under review.

The category focused on accelerating social media and consumer channel activities to drive consumer engagements.

Cash Flow

In terms of the company’s financials, he said cash and cash equivalent were in a deficit of GH¢26m in 2021 compared with a deficit position of GH¢0.9m in
2020.

“This was largely due to efforts in securing foreign currency to service our payables,” he said.