May 10, 2012 / 5:14 PM / 6 years ago

Unilever aims to nearly double Africa revenue in 5 yrs

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Unilever aims to nearly double its revenue in Africa in five years, a senior executive said on Thursday, as it bets on rising demand for everything from soap to soup on the fast-growing continent.

The consumer goods giant makes more than 3 billion euro a year in Africa and aims to increase that by tapping rising incomes and by bringing in more of its brands, said Frank Braeken, Unilever’s executive vice president for Africa.

“I would be disappointed if we haven’t close to doubled it in five years. If you look at these opportunities, that should certainly be our ambition,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The maker of brands such as Dove and Knorr is focused on major markets South Africa and Nigeria, as well as smaller markets such as Kenya, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Braeken said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Africa.

Unilever and other multinationals are increasingly paying attention to Africa’s potential. The continent, home to a billion people and dozens of fast-growing economies, is seen as the next big opportunity for consumer goods.

Braeken said Unilever is targeting both the low and high ends of the African consumer market and is looking to push further into rural areas.

It also aims to bring in more of its existing products to African countries, such as hair products from the United States, he said.

Unilever is aggressively spending on building new factories and upgrading existing ones, Braeken said, although he declined to give a target for capital expenditure.

“There is a substantial capex agenda behind our Africa strategy.”

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