Unilever, the Persil and Flora margarine group, shrugged off the threat of a detergents price war yesterday, saying it would reduce prices only "when desirable and sensible". Chairman Sir Michael Perry said the company would not be pushed into cuts by rivals such as Procter & Gamble which cut the price of some detergents last week.
Sir Michael was speaking as Unilever announced a downbeat set of results which showed that pre-tax profits for 1995 were 4 per cent lower than the previous year at pounds 2.3bn. Sales were 6 per cent higher at pounds 31.5bn and the dividend was increased by 10 per cent. Sir Michael blamed the profits shortfall on exceptional items as well as difficult trading in Europe where consumer confidence was low. A restructure in Europe will cost 65 jobs in Britain.