November 29, 2017 / 7:17 PM / a year ago

Unilever sees personal care business returning to higher growth "soon"

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch consumer goods maker Unilever expects its personal care business to return to growth above 4 percent soon, having slowed down recently.

Alan Jope, head of the unit that includes Dove soap and Sunsilk shampoo, said he was not satisfied with its 2.4-percent growth in the year so far, but he was “determined and confident” there would be a rebound.

He declined to say exactly when that would happen.

Jope spoke on Wednesday at an investor event at the company’s New Jersey offices that was simultaneously broadcast over the internet.

Since rebuffing an unexpected $143-billion takeover offer in February from Kraft-Heinz, Unilever has been under pressure to prove it can quickly deliver comparable returns as a standalone company.

In explaining the slowdown, Jope pointed to lower growth of the global market, weakness in two big countries - Indonesia and Brazil - and increased competition from local rivals, such as Patanjali in India and Wardah in Indonesia.

While the first two issues were temporary, Jope said local rivalries were a long-term phenomenon, and that was partly why Unilever was focusing on increasing its agility in local markets.

Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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