FTSE 100 falls as Unilever sales slow


Traders in London.

Shares in Unilever led the UK market lower after the consumer goods giant reported slowing sales growth.

The company, whose brands include Dove, Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s, said underlying sales in the third quarter of the year rose 2.6% to £13.2bn.

That was slower than the 3% growth seen in the first half of the year, and was also below analysts’ expectations.

Unilever cited poorer weather in Europe and hurricanes in the US for the sales slowdown.

However, it said emerging markets such as India and China had seen “signs of improvement”.

Shares in Unilever were down 4.4% by lunchtime. That made it the biggest faller in the FTSE 100, with the index down 37.41 points at 7,505.46.

In the FTSE 250, shares in IWG plunged 34% after the serviced office provider issued a profit warning.

The company said third-quarter sales had been weaker than expected, and group operating profit for 2017 was set to be “materially below” market forecasts.

Interserve was another firm to be hit by a profit warning. Shares in the construction and support services company sank 30% after it said trading in the third quarter had deteriorated and it warned it could breach its banking agreements.

On the currency markets, the pound lost ground after UK retail sales figures came in weaker than expected.

Retail sales volumes dropped 0.8% in September, reversing a jump in August, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The news sent the pound to as low as $1.3126 against the dollar before it recovered to $1.3180. Against the euro, sterling was down 0.6% at €1.1135.