"Market conditions have been challenging throughout the year, particularly in the second half where currency devaluations and rising commodity costs put pressure on consumer demand".
Shares in Unilever (LON:ULVR) have fallen deep into the red in London this morning as the consumer goods giant warned that sales growth this year was likely to be at the lower end of its multi-year guidance.
In terms of the group's individual divisions, its Beauty & Personal Care arm saw sales rise 3.1%, driven by a 2.5% volume gain, with its biggest brand, Dove, seeing "another year of broad-based growth".
He said: "Looking forward, accelerating growth will be our number one priority".
The Anglo-Dutch group, which is working to move on from last year's botched plan to shift its main headquarters to the Netherlands, saw its shares fall almost 3 percent on Thursday as the sales miss overshadowed full-year earnings that were ahead of expectations.
'In 2019 we expect market conditions to remain challenging.
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The London-based manufacturer, which is trying to move on from 2018's rejected plan to move its headquarters from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands due to concerns over uncertainty surrounding Brexit, had stated that full-year sales would be at the bottom end of its 3 to 5 percent forecast range.
Unilever's growth was impacted by challenges in Latin America.
Unilever is stockpiling ice creams in Britain and deodorants in continental Europe to guard against potential supply disruptions in the event of a no-deal Brexit. On an underlying basis, full year sales rose 2.9% with prices up 0.9% and volumes up 1.9%. The target calls for an operating margin of 20 percent. Meanwhile, sales in developed markets grew slightly helped by a good year for ice cream in Europe as well as the continued transformation of Unilever's portfolio towards faster growing segments.
For the full year, Unilever reported turnover of 49.6 billion euros ($57.05 billion), excluding its divested spreads business, and earnings of 3.48 euros per share.
Shares fell 2.9% to 3,945p.