Unilever sales beat expectations; warns on demand

Beauty a big growth driver: Unilever boss

The chief executive of consumer goods giant Unilever has told CNBC that global sales is slow as the company posted a higher-than-expected rise in first-half sales.

Underlying sales growth at the Anglo-Dutch group rose 2.9 percent, the company said - above analyst estimates of 2.6 percent. Net profit came in at 2.49 billion euros ($2.72 billion) over the period.

"Volume growth is now slow right now in the world. You saw the IMF (International Monetary Fund) lowering the overall global forecasts; we'll have to deal with that," CEO Paul Polman told CNBC Thursday.

"But as you can see these results are better than previous quarter and better than the quarter before, so I believe there is a movement in the right direction for the company."

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The company, whose products include well-known household brands such as Dove soap and Persil washing detergent, snapped up a number of high-end skincare brands earlier this year, in an effort to crack the luxury cosmetics segment of the market. The company now owns brands including Ren, Kate Somerville, Doctor Murad and Dermalogica.

Polman said the company would focus on both its core brand and the recently acquired "prestige beauty" brands to boost growth and lagging volumes.

"These are definitely higher-margin products" he added. "(They) give us a sizable new prestige beauty business which we see as an enormous growth opportunity for the future."

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