LONDON – Unilever is restructuring its organization around five business units — Beauty & Wellbeing, Home Care, Ice Cream, Nutrition and Personal Care — that will be managed by a central hub that will provide technology, systems and processes support. The reorganization will result in the layoffs of approximately 1,500 management-level employees globally, according to the company.
“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,” said Alan Jope, chief executive officer. “Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this.”
The new business model will lead to a 15% reduction in senior management roles and 5% reduction in junior management roles. 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, snacking, functional nutrition, plant-based meat and food solutions.
Matt Close, currently executive vice president of Ice Cream, has been appointed 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 chief supply chain officer, will lead the supply chain and Unilever business operations as chief business operations officer. Nitin Paranjpe, chief operating officer, will take on a new role as chief transformation officer and chief people officer, leading the business transformation, and heading human resources.
Ramsey Baghdadi, consumer analyst at GlobalData, London, a market research company, said the reorganization reflects changes in the global market since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although COVID-19 restrictions have been alleviated in many countries, 45% of consumers are still concerned about the pandemic when visiting shops, according to a survey by GlobalData,” he said. “Shop visitor numbers remain lower than pre-pandemic periods, and this is a direct barrier to a significant portion of Unilever’s portfolio that relies on impulse buys. No longer can the company be supported by boosts from panic buying. New product launches and specialized products will likely see less consumer engagement, and sales will ultimately slow.“However, Unilever has been flexible before. It quickly recognized emerging consumer behaviors such as working from home, for example, and was just as quick to react, with the likes of innovative channel strategies such as direct-to-consumer.”