Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, thinks global consumption will remain at a low level for a while, despite signs of improvement in East Asia, Latin America and elsewhere.
Jope made his statements in an interview with Reuters yesterday. "We still believe that the first half of this year will be a sustained period of suppressed consumption," he said. The chief executive expects demand to pick up again in the second half of the year and, especially, in 2022.
Due to the high level of uncertainty concerning the pandemic, Jope keeps a low profile regarding growth targets. "We don't expect any major setbacks from a margin perspective, but I don't want to elaborate on numbers until things stabilise globally," he said.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Unilever was able to benefit from the rising demand for pre-packaged foods as a result of the pandemic. On the other hand, the company suffered a sales drop in food sold at public places, such as beaches and restaurants. Nevertheless, Jope sees signs of recovery, especially in Singapore and China, where businesses are gradually returning to normal. African and Latin American consumer markets are also showing strong resilience.
Unilever intends to continue to focus on reshaping its portfolio in the foreseeable future, but this will not immediately lead to major divestments. Some smaller brands in the beauty and personal care industry may be divested, but the impact will be minimal, the CEO assured.