Consumer goods giant Unilever is planning to cut about 1,500 jobs worldwide as part of a reorganisation of its management and structure following its failed bid for a division of global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), according to a BBC report.
Unilever, the maker of well-known brands including Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Magnum and Wall’s ice cream and personal and homecare products such as Domestos, said the move would represent a 5% cut to its workforce.
The reorganised company will comprise five divisions, including beauty, personal care and ice cream, resulting in several senior executive changes along with cuts further down the management chain, according to the 25 January report.
"Our new organisational model has been developed over the last year and is designed to continue the step-up we are seeing in the performance of our business,” Unilever chief executive Alan Jope said.
“Moving to five category-focused business groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends... Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this.”
Unilever's 80 brands are currently divided into three divisions: Beauty & Personal Care, Food & Refreshment and Home Care. The new structure places popular brands Ben & Jerry's, Magnum and Cornetto into a separate Ice Cream division.
Ben & Jerry's would, however, retain its separate independent board, a structure agreed when Unilever bought the brand in 2000, the company said.
The announcement followed Unilever’s pursuit, which was subsequently dropped, of GSK’s healthcare business.
Initially, Unilever had said it wanted to increase its personal healthcare and hygiene market, the BBC wrote, to offset slow growth in its foods business.
But GSK, which owns brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste and Panadol painkillers, said the offer “fundamentally undervalued” the division and Unilever had since refused to raise its bid.
Unilever uses palm oil in many of its products – from food and beauty to its household cleaning range.
According to its website, the company sustainably sourced 99.6% of its core volumes of palm oil and palm kernel oil by the end of 2020.
In 2020, Unilever committed to achieving a zero deforestation supply chain by 2023 for the crops with high deforestation risk (palm oil, paper and board, tea, soya and cocoa).
“As a major palm oil buyer, we have a key role to play in transforming the industry to stop deforestation, improve transparency and traceability, and support and enable farmers – especially smallholders – to adopt more sustainable practices,” the company said on its website.
Soya oil is also an important ingredient in Unilever’s brands, including Hellmann’s mayonnaise. On its website, the company said the majority of the soya oil it purchased came from soyabeans grown in the USA, where soil health and water quality were a particular focus for its farmer programmes.