Breaking News
Close
Investing Pro 0
NEW! Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+ Try 7 Days Free

After rocky start to year, Unilever axes 1,500 managers

Stock MarketsJan 25, 2022 15:25
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Unilever logo is displayed in this illustration taken on January 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Richa Naidu and Pushkala Aripaka

LONDON (Reuters) -Unilever will cut about 1,500 management jobs and reshape its business to focus on five main product areas as it tries to boost growth after a failed acquisition and with an activist investor to appease.

The maker of Dove soap and Magnum ice cream, which employs about 149,000 people worldwide, said on Tuesday it would focus on beauty and wellbeing, personal care, home care, nutrition, and ice cream.

The move, which Unilever (LON:ULVR) said had been in the works for a year, echoes the reshaping by rival Procter & Gamble (P&G) three years ago https://www.reuters.com/article/us-procter-gamble-strategy-idUKKCN1ND37M - which at the time also had activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Partners as a shareholder.

"Moving to five category-focused business groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery," Unilever CEO Alan Jope said.

Unilever, whose shares have fallen by about a quarter from their record high in 2019, last week effectively abandoned https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/unilever-says-it-will-not-increase-50-bln-pound-offer-gsk-consumer-business-2022-01-19 plans to buy GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) consumer healthcare business for 50 billion pounds ($67 billion).

Its proposal, rejected by GSK, was widely criticised by investors as being a costly and risky distraction from dealing with pressing challenges to the business, such as surging inflation in emerging markets and weakness in healthy foods.

Days later, reports https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/unilever-shares-gain-after-activist-investor-peltz-builds-stake-2022-01-24 emerged that Peltz's Trian Partners had built a stake in Unilever, though Trian has not confirmed this.

At P&G, Trian sought to improve the Tide detergent maker's shrinking market share, low organic sales growth, aging brands, bureaucracy and excessive structural costs, among other things. Peltz also pushed for P&G's decision to restructure its business into fewer units - similar to Unilever's new plan.

Since Trian first invested in P&G, the company's stock price nearly doubled, and bankers and lawyers who have worked with Peltz expect he may bring the playbook https://www.reuters.com/article/trian-unilever-playbook/focus-trian-expected-to-revive-its-pg-playbook-with-unilever-idINL1N2U427M that worked at P&G to Unilever.

However, there may be no quick fix.

"Unilever operates in different product categories so it is unclear if this same strategy is enough to get growth back and over what time scale. Typically this takes years rather than months," Tineke Frikkee, fund manager at Unilever investor Waverton Investment Management, said.

POOR PERFORMANCE

Unilever, which is expected next month report a decline in full-year net income, has struggled through the pandemic https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/unilever-margins-spotlight-inflation-surges-2021-10-20 with rising raw material, labour and transport costs. Its exposure to certain foods and emerging markets - where inflation is rising sharply - has also put it at a disadvantage versus rivals P&G and Nestle.

As Unilever continues to lag, investors have grown frustrated. On Thursday, British fund manager Terry Smith criticised the company in a letter to his Fundsmith LLP investors, calling the lost GSK deal a "near death experience" and urging management to focus on strengthening performance.

"Unilever management's response to its poor performance has been to utter meaningless platitudes to which it has now attempted to add major M&A activity," Smith wrote.

GlobalData analyst Ramsey Baghdadi said Unilever should focus on strengthening its current product ranges and reaching new customers, instead of diversifying into other sectors such as healthcare - as seen in the GSK bid.

Unilever, which traces its roots to a small soap business in 1880s Britain, said it did not expect factory workers to be impacted by its restructuring. There will be 15% fewer senior management roles and 5% fewer junior management roles, however.

"While today’s news may not be directly connected to the company’s failed GSK offer, the timing is unfortunate," Sean Moran, restructuring specialist at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said. "When confidence in a business is low, drastic decisions must often be made."

After rocky start to year, Unilever axes 1,500 managers
 

Related Articles

Airline easyJet cancels more than 200 flights
Airline easyJet cancels more than 200 flights By Reuters - May 28, 2022 2

LONDON (Reuters) - Low-cost carrier easyJet (LON:EZJ) is to cancel more than 200 flights over the next 10 days due to airport delays and other restrictions, disrupting travel...

German engineering body scraps 2022 outlook - report
German engineering body scraps 2022 outlook - report By Reuters - May 28, 2022

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's main engineering industry association has scrapped its 2022 production forecast, saying even a reduced estimate it made in March would no longer be...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Our Apps
DOWNLOAD APPApp store
Investing.com
© 2007-2022 Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
  • Sign up for FREE and get:
  • Real-Time Alerts
  • Advanced Portfolio Features
  • Personalized Charts
  • Fully-Synced App
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email