LONDON — Unilever is restructuring its organization around five business units – Beauty and Wellness, Homecare, Ice Cream, Nutrition and Personal Care – which will be managed by a central hub that will provide technology, systems and process support. The reorganization will result in the layoff of about 1,500 executive-level employees globally, according to the company.
“Moving to five category-focused business groups will allow us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear responsibility for delivery,” said Alan Jope, CEO. “Growth remains our top priority and these changes will support our pursuit.”
The new business model will lead to a reduction of 15% in general management positions and 5% in junior management positions. The company said it did not expect the layoffs to affect factory teams.
As part of the reorganization, Hanneke Faber, current president of Foods & Refreshment, has been named president of the Nutrition unit, which will include brands focused on cooking, snacks, functional nutrition, plant-based meat and food solutions. .
Matt Close, currently executive vice president of Ice Cream, has been named president of the business unit. Ice cream brands owned by Unilever include Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Magnum, Talenti and others.
Within the new central hub, Reginaldo Ecclissato, current Director of Supply Chain, will lead Unilever’s supply chain and business operations as Director of Business Operations. Nitin Paranjpe, Chief Operating Officer, will take on a new role as Chief Transformation Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer, leading business transformation and leading Human Resources.
Ramsey Baghdadi, consumer analyst at GlobalData, London, a market research firm, said the reorganization reflects changes in the global market since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although COVID-19 restrictions have been eased in many countries, 45% of consumers are still concerned about the pandemic when visiting stores, according to a GlobalData survey,” he said. “The number of in-store visitors remains lower than in pre-pandemic periods, which is a direct obstacle to a significant part of Unilever’s portfolio which is based on impulse purchases. The business can no longer be supported by blows inches from panic buying New product launches and specialty products will likely see less consumer engagement, and sales will eventually slow.
“However, Unilever has been flexible before. It quickly recognized emerging consumer behaviors such as working from home, for example, and was equally quick to respond, with innovative channel strategies such as direct-to- consume.”