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Global consumer products group Unilever has posted underlying group sales growth of 3.6% for the first quarter of the year.

In a trading update today, Unilever said emerging markets led the way with sales up 6.6%. Underlying volume growth for the quarter came in 1.9% higher while pricing rose 1.6%.

However, the company’s turnover decreased by 6.3% to €11.4 billion (£9.38 billion) reflecting a negative currency impact of 8.9%.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever said: "We delivered good growth in the first quarter despite slowing markets and a tough competitive environment, further evidence that Unilever is now delivering consistently ahead of our markets.

"We continue to deliver strong, margin-accretive innovations whilst embedding operational discipline across our markets. At the same time we are increasing our distribution reach and enhancing the capabilities of our people to ensure that we have a strong foundation from which to deliver sustained growth."

Polman also said the overall picture in developed markets remained weak although there were some further signs of improvement in southern Europe.

Unilever CIO Willem Eelman, who comes from a finance background CFO, was recognised in the recent CIO 100 and discussed "pushing the digitla agenda" at Unilever along with the company's chief marketing officer, chief customer officer and chief supply chain officer.