Sri Lanka’s Unilever sees consumer demand pick up from June

ECONOMYNEXT – Unilever Plc, Sri Lanka, a top consumer goods company, is seeing a revival in demand from June 2019, recovering from a slowdown earlier in the year, officials said.

“There is a growth in the market from the month of June to date,” said Sharmila Bandara, Marketing Director for home care, foods and refreshments and water at Unilever said.

“We are expecting growth to continue during the year.”

Many companies which saw weak demand in 2019, after the collapse of the rupee in 2018, were hit again in after Easter Sunday attacks analysts.

The attacks, carried out by an extremist Pan-Islamic suicide group, led to a sharp fall in tourism, which again hit consumption with a range of companies from poultry to beer being hit.

Meanwhile Unilever had recovered faster than some other firms from the Easter Sunday attacks.

“After the Easter Sunday attack there was a small impact to the sales volume during the month of May but from June onwards the volumes were back to normal,” Unilever Marketing Manager of Home care products, Shamara Silva said.

Unilever has over two dozen brands that are market leaders in Sri Lanka. Officials say Unilever has a 60 percent share in the FMCG categories it operates in.

“I think it is because of the product category we are in,” Bandara said. “The companies that were in high end products were affected ore. But as a company that sells day to day essentials I can assure that there was no major impact to the company.”

Unilever Sri Lanka is launching a project to promote strengthen the bonds between the citizen of Sri Lanka called ‘Manudham Viyamana’, a tapestry of signatures from those subscribing to the idea around the country.

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The initiative is carried out under the banner of Sunlight, a Unilever laundry soap and detergent brand.

Officials say Sunlight has a 65 percent market share in the laundry segment. The firm claims a 80 percent share in the laundry segment.

Unilever says the bond-building exercise is apolitical and has the support of religious dignitaries.

“All what we want to do is to strengthen the weakened bonds of Sri Lanka,” Bandara said.

Officials say they decided to use a brand at the end of the advertisement in the first phase of the program, because elections are being held during the same time as the program and the firm wanted to avoid speculation about the source.

Unilever had run a campaign on the same theme of strengthening bonds before the attacks from as far back as 2018, officials said.

They were also published under the Sunlight brand. (Colombo/Oct16/2019)

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